Elizabeth A. Olmsted-Davis, PhD
Dr. Olmsted-Davis’s research program encompasses the design of a cell based gene therapy system for targeted production of bone. One of the therapeutic goals for this system is to enhance bone repair both in long bone fractures, as well as offer a potential treatment for critical size defects resulting from bone trauma. These clinical problems are difficult challenges to orthopedic surgeons resulting in the need to introduce additional hardware or bone graft, and often in the case of trauma, result in the loss of the limb altogether. Our system is designed to rapidly form bone within two weeks after a single injection of our gene therapy system, thus significantly reducing both complications from potential infection as well as overall recovery time. This work is currently supported by the DOD-orthopedic trauma research program.
A second approach for the treatment of critical size defects is to tissue engineer the bone within a bioreactor which could then later be engrafted into the defect area. This work is a collaborative effort between our laboratory and several others within the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, and Baylor College of Medicine. Our contribution to this project is to characterize the normal physiological processes of de novo bone formation. Using our gene therapy model, we have identified a novel stem cell population and characterized the micro-environmental signals that eventually lead to stem cell differentiation into cartilage and bone. This work is currently funded by the NIBIB.
The third focus of the laboratory is to develop a non-invasive approach for spine fusion. This project has been ongoing over the past three years and has resulted in an efficacious injectable system that results in fusion of the vertebral bones. We are currently completing the efficacy testing in rodent models. Once animal testing is completed, we propose to translate this project into a tentative clinical trial. This work is supported by the DOD-PRMRP.
Dr. Olmsted-Davis has also been involved with establishing a Vector Development Laboratory, a non-profit core facility at Baylor College of Medicine, which provides gene therapy vectors for use as gene delivery systems for preclinical and basic research. This organization has aided researchers in both the Texas Medical Center as well as the global research community.