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TRICK OR TREAT: CURE FOR OSTEOPOROSIS DRESSED-UP AS A FISH

 TRICK OR TREAT: CURE FOR OSTEOPOROSIS DRESSED-UP AS A FISH
 BOSTON, Mass., Oct.28 /PRNewswire/ -- This year's Halloween brings news of a homely fish -- the horse-eyed jack -- which could unmask a cure for osteoporosis, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and its Zimmer subsidiary are helping fund this and other work of the Brigham and Women's orthopaedic research group with a five-year, $250,000 no-strings-attached orthopaedic research grant.
 "These fish grow distinct bony swellings, or hyperostosis, that fishermen for centuries have referred to as 'fish rheumatism.' Hyperostosis closely resembles human bone and appears when the fish reach maturity," said co-investigator Julianne Glowacki, Ph.D., associate professor, orthopaedic surgery. "If we can figure out what triggers these fish to turn on bone formation at specific sites in their bodies, it may enable us to trigger bone growth in humans, such as in women who have lost bone due to osteoporosis," she said.
 Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dr. Les Kaufman at the New England Aquarium have formed a unique partnership to study the horse-eyed jack. Projects that are currently underway include:
 -- A study of juvenile fish. "Because hyperostosis occurs at
 sexual maturity, we suspect that a hormone may trigger the
 bone growth," Dr. Glowacki said. The researchers are
 implanting the young fish with hormones to see if it will
 accelerate the growth of hyperostosis.
 -- A study of fracture healing. "Most fish bones have no
 cells and are therefore incapable of healing when broken,
 but these bony nodules on the horse-eyed jack do have
 cells. We're studying to see if this bone can heal
 itself," Dr. Glowacki said. The studies are expected to
 increase the researchers' knowledge of bone healing and
 growth in humans and may lead to improved treatments for
 fractures and other bone disorders.
 In the past, studies of fish have made important contributions to our understanding of the human skeletal system. "It is often easier to understand complex problems in simple settings," said principal investigator Clement B. Sledge, M.D., professor and chairman, orthopaedic surgery. "For example, the hormone calcitonin which is responsible for controlling mineral deposits in bone was first discovered 25 years ago in migrating salmon. Today, the hormone is used as a treatment for certain degenerative bone diseases."
 Brigham and Women's Hospital is one of 12 institutions to receive the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Zimmer Institutional Grant for Excellence in Orthopaedic Research, a five-year, no-strings-attached grant of $50,000 per year.
 Grant recipients are selected by a peer-review committee of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, an independent philanthropic organization dedicated to furthering the science of orthopaedics. Since its inception in 1987, the unrestricted research grant program has awarded $3.5 million and is the largest of its kind in orthopaedics.
 In addition to the Institutional Grants program, the company underwrites annual symposia on orthopaedic research and sponsors the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Zimmer Award for Distinguished Achievement in Orthopaedic Research, an annual prize of $50,000 presented to a leading orthopaedic researcher.
 These programs are part of a $36 million program of unrestricted biomedical research grants Bristol-Myers Squibb has sponsored since 1977 in cancer, nutrition, the neurosciences, pain, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and orthopaedics.
 Bristol-Myers Squibb is a research-based, diversified health care company whose principal businesses are pharmaceuticals, consumer products, nutritionals and medical devices. Its Zimmer division is a leading supplier of orthopaedic implants and other surgical, hospital and patient care products.
 -0- 10/28/92
 /CONTACT: Victoria George or Jennifer Hauser of Bristol-Myers Squibb, 312-558-1770/ CO: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ST: Massachusetts IN: HEA SU:


PS -- NY024 -- 5836 10/28/92 09:40 EST
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Date:Oct 28, 1992
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