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Jul 10, 2020 / Research & Innovation

Scottish Rite Receives Prestigious Grant for Scoliosis Research

The mission of research at Scottish Rite for Children is to seek new knowledge that will provide the best and most innovative care for patients. As an institution known globally for treating patients with complex spinal deformities, our physicians and researchers commit their time to research activities to ensure that these children receive the most effective treatment plan.

Recently, Scottish Rite received a grant focused on early onset scoliosis (EOS). Children with EOS develop scoliosis before the age of 10 and are at risk of serious health issues. EOS can have many causes. Consequently, each child with EOS requires focused attention and a multidisciplinary approach to determine the underlying causes and most effective, individualized treatment.

For some, the underlying causes are not yet discovered. The research titled, Translating Genomics into Early Onset Scoliosis Clinical Care, aims to discover EOS disease genes and uncover new underlying causes in this unique patient population. The grant to fund this study was awarded from the Orthopaedic Research Education Foundation OREF/SRS/POSNA Transform Practice – Spinal Growth opportunity. Over the next three years, Scottish Rite will receive a total of $240,000 to support the study and collaboration with researchers from institutions across the country who participate in the Pediatric Spine Study Group.  

One of the most perplexing forms of EOS is idiopathic infantile scoliosis (IIS), in which the child has a severe curve of the spine but is healthy otherwise. Findings from our team in recent pilot studies have shown that next-generation genomic analyses of IIS patients can rapidly define underlying diagnostic mutations that had gone unresolved for many years. It can also highlight potential new disease genes – which sparked the desire to start this project.

Director of Basic Research Carol Wise, Ph.D., is the principal investigator for this study. “We are honored to have been awarded such a prestigious grant,” says Wise. “Our commitment to discovering the genetic causes of scoliosis is unwavering – especially for this specific patient population. Our team of scientists and doctors understand that this diagnosis can be frightening to parents and difficult to treat. We are excited to partner with our patient families, the Pediatric Spine Study Group and the OREF to tackle the underlying causes of this perplexing and troubling disease and enhance our mission of personalized medical care.” 

At Scottish Rite, the question involved in all of our research is – how can this study make treatment and care better for our patients? With this in mind, the main purpose of this study is to further explain the genes associated with idiopathic scoliosis, by studying its severest form, those children who have infantile early onset scoliosis. Analyzing the genes can help our team better understand the disease as a whole and could impact future medical treatments. 

Brandon A. Ramo, M.D., medical director of ambulatory care and co-principal investigator on this study, is excited about the impact it can have for this patient population. “Scoliosis can present in so many different ways – from the common to the complex,” says Ramo. “But the EOS population is one that requires an even closer eye because the disease can progress rapidly and begin to impact other organs if gone untreated. With this grant opportunity, we hope to advance how we care for these kids to make sure they are able to live a healthy and independent life.” 

Learn more about our spine research. 

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