Symposium Co-Chairs: Matthew Halanski, MD and Todd Milbrandt, MD
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Symposium Audience: Orthopaedic surgeons and researchers, Young Investigators, industry representatives, government representatives, and other medical specialties. Total registration is limited; early registration is encouraged.
Overview: All children grow in stature through the controlled elongation of the human skeleton. However, how bone growth is regulated and optimal treatments for disorders in bone growth are currently unknown. This conference will bring together experts to focus on summarizing current growth plate knowledge, discuss current and upcoming treatments, and identify important areas for future research.
The structure of the physis, or growth plate, has been well described by histology and radiologic measures; however, its physiology remains a mystery. Investigators have probed the physis and defined its makeup of extracellular matrix, collagen, the presence of certain growth factors, and characterized the histomorphometry of its cells. Yet how these different entities interact normally and in the face of disease is not known. Currently, surgeons use techniques to slow growth and implants to harness growth to correct deformity; but the mechanisms behind these interventions remain largely unknown.
Basic concepts including what stimulates growth and it can be harnessed are elusive; this remains the holy grail of pediatric orthopaedics. By defining the mechanisms by which the matrix, cells and growth factors interact; one could devise pharmacology/surgical intervention that could take advantage of that knowledge. In addition, a disproportionate share of musculoskeletal physeal diseases are found in obese children. As the epidemic rages in the pediatric population, more children will be suffering the consequences. Patients will benefit from an in-depth knowledge of this organ, and understanding the endocrine cascade that works on the physis could give insights into other cartilage diseases such as osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.