July 6, 2010

NIH Awards $2.5M to Study Osteoporosis in Youth with Spina Bifida

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Tishya Wren, PhD, of The Saban Research Institute at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, California, has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, to study bone development in children with myelomeningocele, the most severe type of spina bifida. This population of children and adolescents may be at an increased risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis. The five-year study will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues at the Childrens Orthopaedic Center and the Childrens Imaging Research Program.

Wren, who has a PhD in mechanical engineering, serves as director of research for the John C. Wilson, Jr., Motion Analysis Laboratory at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She is also an assistant professor of research for the departments of orthopedics, radiology, and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

“Children and adolescents with spina bifida tend to have more leg fractures than their peers,” Wren explained in a Saban Research Institute press release. “We know that the greatest accumulation of bone mass occurs around the time adolescents reach puberty. What we don’t know is whether or not adolescents with spina bifida have differences in bone development resulting from their disease or if they’re developing less bone mass because they’re spending less time doing weight-bearing activities like standing, walking, and running.”

According to the press release, screening for clinical trial enrollment will begin soon.

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