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Kappa Delta Award Winners

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Embargoed for Release: February 17, 2011

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Awards Recognize Research for New Innovations in Orthopaedics

San Diego, Calif. - The Kappa Delta Sorority and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) presented four research awards to scientists who are helping to close the gap between basic research and clinical medicine. Honored at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), award winners have new findings in the following areas of musculoskeletal health:

  • Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements
  • Therapeutic Intervention for Osteosarcoma
  • Disc Repair/Regeneration
  • Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis Following Fractures

Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements

The 2011 Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award was presented to Young-Min Kwon, MD, PhD, FRCS, FRACS, an orthopaedic surgeon at Massachusetts  General Hospital, Harvard Medical School for his research titled, “Evidence-Based Approach in Understanding ‘Pseudotumors’ in Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements.”

His paper found that the five-year survival rate for young and active patients who undergo a metal-on metal hip resurfacing arthroplasty (MoMHRA) procedure is at 95 percent or above.  However, a great deal of attention has been given to the failure of such devices, specifically with instances of soft tissue pseudotumors. Such complications are relatively rare, yet when they do occur are serious, causing local tissue destruction and often requiring corrective surgery.

For Kwon and his team, the goal of the study was to examine the unusual complications involving pseudotumors in patients with metal-on-metal hip replacements. “As a surgeon-scientist, it is critically important to investigate and gain insights into any unexpected complication that adversely affects patients’ outcome,” said Kwon. “The best way to study these complications is to use an evidence-based approach which forms the foundations to provide clinical recommendations.”

In his research, Kwon discovered:

  • Pseudotumors were more frequent in women, increasingly so with women who had bilateral MoMHRA. 
  • Patients with pseudotumors had significantly higher levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood and joint fluid

From this research Kwon conducted a series of studies and concluded:

  • Pseudotumors develop as a reaction to the metal debris that is generated from the wear of MoMHRA implants. 
  • The wear of these implants derive from edge-loading of the device – which damages the soft tissues of patients susceptible to pseudotumors.

Therapeutic Intervention for Osteosarcoma

Bang H. Hoang, MD and his colleagues of the University of California, Irvine won the 2011 Kappa Delta Ann Doner Vaughan Award for the study, “Toward Novel Therapeutic Intervention for Osteosarcoma: Clinical Implications of the Wnt Pathway.”

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancerous bone tumor that is prone to early distant metastasis (the process by which cancer spreads from its primary location). Though osteosarcoma can be treated in approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of patients, only 20 percent of those who relapse have a five-year survival rate.

With no significant change in survival rate for the past two decades, Dr. Hoang sought to understand how inhibitors of the Wnt pathway (a network of proteins that are responsible for pattern development and in such, have been linked to the progression of cancer) act to suppress tumor growth and metastasis.

For the past seven years, Dr. Hoang studied mechanisms, Wnt signaling and overall influence of Wnt in the spread of the disease to gain a better understanding and to develop a way to manipulate Wnt when it comes to patterning cancer growth. “Our objective is to understand how Wnt signaling and secreted Wnt inhibitor proteins contribute to the biologic development of human osteosarcoma; with the hope that this pathway may be targeted for therapy to prevent tumor progression and metastasis,” said Hoang. “Ultimately, the success of our program belongs to the orthopaedic community and to thousands of patients who face these difficult diseases.”

Disc Repair/Regeneration

The third Kappa Delta Award, named in honor of Elizabeth Winston Lanier was presented to Howard S. An, MD of Rush University Medical Center for the paper, “Intervertebral Disc Repair or Regeneration by Growth Factor and/or Cytokine Inhibitor Protein Injection.”  The paper looks into the relationship between intervertebral disc degeneration and low back pain.

Though low back pain is a common condition, Dr. An explains that such aches “remain a symptom rather than a precise diagnosis, and neither current nonsurgical nor surgical treatments are scientific or evidence-based.”

To learn more about this connection, Dr. An and his colleagues at Rush University Medical Center have researched intervertebral disc degeneration, facet joint osteoarthritis, lumbar spinal stenosis, and degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis for more than a decade. Their overall goal was to research and observe intervertebral disc biology and intervertebral disc degeneration to develop therapeutic agents, treatments and disc restoration.  Based on their findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved investigational new drug clinical trials of compounds created from this research.

Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis Following Fractures

Donald D. Anderson, PhD, of the University of Iowa, and colleagues have been awarded the 2011 Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation Clinical Research Award for their efforts to delineate the relationship between trauma and osteoarthritis in their paper, “The Pathomechanical Etiology of Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis Following Intra-articular Fractures.”

Approximately 12 percent of patients presenting with osteoarthritis of the hip, knee, or ankle have a history of prior joint trauma. Osteoarthritis develops in as many as 25 percent of hip fracture patients, up to 44 percent of those with knee fractures, and in more than half of patients with fractures of the ankle. Despite continued refinement of surgical reconstruction techniques, patient outcomes have not substantially improved over the past 30 years.

In his research, Dr. Anderson hoped to gain a better understanding of the inter-workings and effects of the original trauma and other lingering mechanical effects in the reconstructed joint upon the development of osteoarthritis post-trauma.  By developing new methods to analyze each individual factor, Dr. Anderson paved the way to identify what makes osteoarthritis so prevalent in patients who suffer joint trauma.  This involved testing and assessing new and old approaches to determine how best to prevent post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

About the Kappa Delta Awards

In 1947, at its Golden Anniversary, the Kappa Delta Sorority announced the establishment of the Kappa Delta Research Fellowship in Orthopaedics, the first award ever created to honor achievements in the field of orthopaedic research. The first annual award, a single stipend of $1,000, was made available to the Academy in 1949 and presented at the AAOS meeting in 1950. The Kappa Delta Awards have been presented by the Academy to persons who have performed research in orthopaedic surgery that is of high significance and impact.

The sorority has since added two more awards and increased the dollar amount. At present, three annual awards of $20,000 each are given. Two awards are named for the sorority national past presidents who were instrumental in the creation of the awards: Elizabeth Winston Lanier and Ann Doner Vaughn. The third is known as the Young Investigator Award.

The fourth award, also providing $20,000, is the OREF Clinical Research Award. Established in 1995, the award recognizes outstanding clinical research related directly to musculoskeletal disease or injury.

About OREF and the Kappa Delta Award

Previous Kappa Delta Award Winners

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