Octapharma USA today announced the first grant recipient of the Octapharma 25th Anniversary Grants Program is the Rush Hemophilia & Thrombophilia Center at Rush University Medical Center. The Octapharma grants program supports clinical or pre-clinical research focused on human protein therapies in hematology, immune therapy, intensive care and emergency medicine.
Leonard A. Valentino, M.D., Director of the Section of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and the Rush Hemophilia & Thrombophilia Center at Rush University Medical Center, is the lead investigator for this research effort. Dr. Valentino, a physician with nearly 20 years experience with bleeding and clotting disorders, will study the impact of age at the time of first hemarthrosis on the development of arthropathy. Dr. Valentino leads one of the largest pediatric hemophilia and thrombophilia centers in the United States as well as an active basic and translational science research group. His research focus has been on the causes and mechanisms of blood induced joint disease.
Octapharma AG, one of the largest human protein products manufacturers in the world, launched the Octapharma Grants program last year in celebration of the biopharmaceutical company's 25th anniversary. The company's first ever grants program is only available to researchers based in the United States and is administered by Octapharma USA, the Swiss company's rapidly-growing U.S. subsidiary.
"It is an honor for Octapharma to support the valuable research being pursued by the Rush Hemophilia & Thrombophilia Center," said Octapharma USA President Flemming Nielsen. "Dr. Valentino is a well-recognized national leader in the field of pediatric hematology and oncology and we consider his research extremely important. The grant continues to advance our firm commitment to the U.S. market of ensuring that patients receive the safest, highest quality therapies available today."
The National Hemophilia Foundation, World Federation for Hemophilia and World Health Organization recommend that prophylaxis for hemophilia patients be continued indefinitely. Stopping prophylaxis when boys become adolescents or adults has been suggested by some; in particular, discontinuing prophylaxis after a boy reaches skeletal maturity. The rationale offered is that the impact of hemarthrosis on mature joints is less deleterious than on those of younger patients.
"We expect that the data will not support the hypothesis that bleeding into the mature joint is less detrimental compared to hemarthrosis in the younger skeletally immature joint," said Dr. Valentino. "This data will indicate that prophylaxis should be continued in adults."
To test the hypothesis that older, skeletally mature joints are less susceptible to blood-induced joint damage, mice deficient in factor 8 gene expression will be studied. Animals at different ages will be subjected to a single massive experimental hemarthrosis and then sacrificed in the month after the joint bleeding to assess the severity of hemophilic arthropathy. The diameter of the affected knee joints of immature and mature mice will be compared. The joints will then be isolated and subjected to histological and image analysis using micro-computed tomography.
The Octapharma Grants Committee is currently reviewing the first cycle of 2010 grant applications and recipients will be announced following the analysis. The deadline for the next cycle of 2010 submissions will be September 31. Please visit www.octapharmagrants.com for a complete description of the grants program.