SOURCE: Soft Bones

Soft Bones

April 13, 2015 10:39 ET

UPDATE - Soft Bones, Inc. Awards Grant to Georgia Researcher to Promote Work in Hypophosphatasia

$25,000 Grant Awarded to Dr. Luke Mortensen

BOONTON, NJ--(Marketwired - Apr 13, 2015) - Soft Bones, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing information, education, and support to those affected by hypophosphatasia (HPP), is pleased to award its second annual Maher Family Grant to Dr. Luke Mortensen of Athens, Georgia based on his standout proposal for a new scientific approach to investigating this rare disease.

The Scientific Advisory Board for Soft Bones recommended Dr. Mortensen as the winner of the grant after thoroughly examining the worthy proposals of six applicants from the United States, Canada, and France, citing that a strong factor in their decision was his idea to use HPP mice to learn more about the therapeutic potential of transplanting alkaline phosphatase-rich cells into patients' bone marrow space.

"There have been challenges doing this for other bone diseases over the years, but Dr. Mortensen clearly understands the brief history of using marrow cell transplantation for infantile hypophosphatasia," said Michael P. Whyte, MD, Washington University. "We hope that seed grant support from Soft Bones might enable him to begin a long-term commitment for hypophosphatasia investigation."

Dr. Mortensen completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital before becoming an Assistant Professor of Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at The University of Georgia (UGA) in 2014.

Within UGA, Dr. Mortensen recently joined the Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC). He works closely with the RBC director, Dr. Steven Stice, who is actively working with lab teams on a surgical gel, dubbed "fracture putty" that can heal a broken bone within days. Dr. Mortensen is in the process of opening his own research lab within the RBC, and hopes the seed grant money will provide him the opportunity to gather preliminary data and develop the scientific justification for major external funding.

"I wanted to work towards something that can have an impact, and with HPP there is such a wide range of problems that patients can experience, yet so little research has been done," said Dr. Mortensen. "There is a great deal of potential to positively change people's lives with this project."

Dr. Mortensen will formally accept the grant in June at an HPP patient meeting in Orlando. This is second research grant Soft Bones has awarded since its founding in 2008. More information about hypophosphatasia and existing research can be found at

Hypophosphatasia is an inherited, ultra-rare, metabolic (chemical) bone disease that causes severe disease in approximately one per 100,000 live births. Depending on the severity of the skeletal disease, symptoms can include deformity of the limbs and chest, pneumonia, and recurrent factures. While there is currently no cure for hypophosphatasia, treatment is directed towards preventing or correcting the symptoms or complications.

Soft Bones was founded in 2008 to provide information and to establish a forum to educate, empower, and connect patients living with hypophosphatasia, their families, and caregivers. The Foundation also promotes research of rare bone disease through awareness and fund-raising efforts. Under the leadership of Deborah Nettune Sittig, Soft Bones has raised awareness around the world, including advocating for the disease to receive the policy recognition and research funding it deserves, by bringing attention to children affected by hypophosphatasia around the globe.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Deborah Sittig
    Phone: 973-263-8585 x22
    Email: Email Contact