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Centre de recherche
Tuesday, November 18 2008
Press release

Inauguration of a World-leading musculoskeletal disorders laboratory

The Viscogliosi Molecular Genetics Laboratory of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Montreal, Tuesday, November. 18, 2008 – The CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center is proud to inaugurate its state-of-the art laboratory dedicated to the molecular genetics of musculoskeletal disorders. The laboratory with its global infrastructure is like no other in the world. Its aims will be twofold: to develop innovative diagnostic tools and therapeutic treatments to prevent and stop disease progression through tailored pharmacotherapies.

Dr. Alain Moreau runs the Laboratory whose mission is to develop new molecular diagnostic tools for the early screening of scoliosis and other disorders that affect large numbers of children and adults and for which there are no tests. In addition, this state-of-the-art infrastructure will enable Dr. Moreau and his team to develop novel therapeutics aimed at preventing scoliosis or stopping its progression at an early stage. This represents a remarkable breakthrough leading to customized medicine that will revolutionize the treatment of scoliosis as well as other diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. With all these advances, Dr. Moreau considers that “we are now, for the first time, in the exceptional position of being able to foresee the eradication of the disease in the very near future with the development of the first drugs within ten years' time.” Dr. Guy A. Rouleau, Director of the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center, states that “Dr. Moreau's research work will lead to significant advances in the field of musculoskeletal disorders by preparing today for the medicine of tomorrow. In fact, his activities in the field of genomics are going to lead to a type of medicine that is adapted to a patient's genetic profile in order to deliver a targeted therapeutic response tailored to an individual's health problems.”

The Viscogliosi Laboratory's facilities include high-tech equipment that is used for genetic profiling to identify sub-groups of patients for whom customized prevention programs can be prescribed. A robotic platform that analyzes biochemical tests for 500 patients within four hours will also make it possible to identify various potential therapeutic agents.

Viscogliosi: a Long-Time Partner of the CHU Sainte-Justine

“We have partnered with the Sainte-Justine UHC Research Center for years now,” says Marc R. Viscogliosi, Chairman and CEO Paradigm Spine, and Principal of Viscogliosi Brothers, LLC. Dr. Moreau and his teammates have long proven their skills. Their recent advances in understanding musculoskeletal diseases have revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis. As a result, there have already been major improvements in the quality of life of the children. With this $1.6 million donation to the Sainte-Justine Hospital Foundation, we take pride in being part of Dr. Moreau’s research as a major contributor by providing him with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratory.”

Scoliosis in a Nutshell

Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that affects four in a hundred people, particularly the young between 10 and 18 years of age. In addition to spinal deformities, this disease may have serious consequences for a patient's health, such as a loss of balance and spatial perception, a lowering of bone density, a reduction in muscle tone and the early onset of osteoporosis in certain adult patients.

On average, 30% of children whose parents suffer from scoliosis will themselves later develop the disease. Nevertheless, 85% of scoliosis cases occur sporadically in children without any family history of the disorder. The Viscogliosi Laboratory will, therefore, offer two additional tests to detect the risk of developing scoliosis in asymptomatic children. One of these tests makes it possible to assign patients to one of three specific groups, which then makes it possible to identify the best treatment for each group by developing customized therapeutic approaches. The collaboration of families in this research program is of great value because parents can actively participate in the monitoring of treatment or the prevention of the disease through the transfer of knowledge and consulting services. In addition to the unique, high-performance equipment in the Laboratory, the success of such an endeavor is the result of the confidence that young patients and their parents have in Sainte-Justine's team of researchers and specialists.

The transfer of knowledge to pediatricians will also be very helpful, since they presently lack early screening tests for children at risk of developing scoliosis and tools to identify in which patients the disorder is likely to progress quickly.

It should be remembered that in 2006 Dr. Alain Moreau made a major breakthrough in the field by developing the first diagnostic test for the early screening of scoliosis as well as for the extent to which the disease will develop. The clinical validation of the tests, which started in 2006, will finish in 2008. The tests are due to hit the market in 2009.

International Consortium

Many countries including Italy, China, Denmark, Switzerland, France, the UK and the USA are involved in activities at the Viscogliosi Laboratory. The CHU Sainte-Justine will act as a reference and coordination center and supervise all the research. This extensive collaborative network will make it possible to share data and cross-tabulate results for various populations around the globe.

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Notes

The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center is the largest mother-child center in Canada and one of the four most important pediatric centers in all of North America. Sainte-Justine employs more than 4,000 people. Affiliated with the University of Montreal, the CHU Sainte-Justine is the largest pediatric training center in Quebec and it plays a leading role in Canada. Its Research Center has 178 investigators and more than 400 students. The CHU Sainte-Justine is a recognized leader in many fields including perinatology, neurodevelopment, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders and movement sciences. Sainte-Justine celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 2007.

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