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Steadman Philippon Research Institute To Share Four DOD Research Grants Aimed At Reducing Risk of Osteoarthritis & Reducing Long-Term Disability Among Military Service Members and Veterans

Goal is to Preserve Quality of Life and Help Service Members & Vets Stay Active
Dr. Philippon: “An honor to be entrusted with this important and meaningful work”

Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) of Vail, Colorado has been awarded a contract from the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Naval Research totaling $4.5 million to support four research projects aimed at reducing the risk of osteoarthritis later in life and reducing long term disability among active duty service members and veterans. SPRI shares the grants with Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio (NAMRU-SA), which was awarded an additional $1.6 million. The announcement was made today by Dr. Marc J. Philippon, managing partner of The Steadman Clinic and co-chair of SPRI, and Dan Drawbaugh, CEO of The Steadman Clinic and SPRI.

“Being selected by the Department of Defense is a wonderful reflection on our world-class scientists and physicians,” said Dr. Philippon. “But most of all, being awarded these grants to help our military service members and veterans stay active is an honor for our entire team. At SPRI, our approach—and what sets us apart—is quickly translating our discoveries in the lab to the clinical setting to improve outcomes for our patients. We are grateful to the DOD for entrusting us with this important and meaningful work.”

Musculoskeletal injuries, specifically those to the knee, are the leading cause of disability for active military and veterans. In particular, the incidence rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury (and associated meniscus and cartilage damage) is 10 times greater in military personnel than civilian populations. The high injury rates and rigorous physical activity endured by service members also places them at high risk for osteoarthritis later in life.

“Specifically, our goal with these four projects is to test the therapeutic potential and efficacy of biologics in the treatment of joint injuries to deliver better outcomes,” said Dr. Johnny Huard, chief scientific officer, director of the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine at SPRI and principal investigator on the DOD contract. “With the benefit of these grants, we hope to accelerate return to duty or activity, extend high-level function, prevent post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) and preserve quality of life for service members and veterans. We look forward to partnering with NAMRU-SA.”

“The partnership between SPRI and NAMRU-SA ensures that state-of-the-art science and translational research addresses gaps identified by the military services, therefore, decreasing the burden of survivorship following traumatic injuries,” said Dr. Sylvain Cardin, chief science director for the Naval Medical Research Unit in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The four closely related, clinically focused projects comprise a cross-disciplinary approach aimed at optimizing biologic therapies for the treatment of joint injuries.

Projects 1 and 4 focus on improving outcomes and preventing osteoarthritis after knee injury. Novel biological therapies for treating cartilage injuries and slowing or preventing the progression of osteoarthritis are investigated in Projects 2 and 3.

More specifically, in Project 1 SPRI will examine bone marrow concentrate and platelet-rich-plasma with the goal to optimize outcomes after knee injuries, improving the rate of return to duty. Project 2 will investigate a novel strategy to improve current procedures for treating cartilage injuries using an FDA-approved drug to improve cartilage repair and preventing osteoarthritis after joint injury.  Project 3, for which SPRI holds an Investigational New Drug Application from the FDA, will use senolytic drugs with the goal to reduce the incidence and severity of many age-related disorders including osteoarthritis. Should these senolytic therapies prove successful, it may be possible to delay or even reverse joint degeneration in these patients, (including in ligaments, menisci and cartilage), extending high-level function and preserving quality of life. Finally, Project 4 will focus on optimization of return-to-duty (RTD) protocols after knee injury, with the goal to lead directly to deployable therapies for maintaining the musculoskeletal health and well-being of active military, increasing operational readiness and significantly reducing overall disability claims and knee dysfunction among veterans.

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