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The University of Oxford has been a major centre for FOP research since the mid-1970s when Professor Jim Triffitt and Dr Roger Smith began their collaborative studies that culminated in the co-discovery of the causative gene for FOP, ACVR1, in 2006. Now with Emeritus status, Professor Triffitt is collaborating with Dr Alex Bullock to develop ACVR1 inhibitors as an effective treatment for FOP.
The newly-formed University of Oxford FOP Research Team is investigating precisely how ACVR1 is activated in FOP patients to induce unwanted bone formation and how drug-like molecules might stop this devastating process. With the help of the Structural Genomics Consortium the team has elucidated the 3D structures of the ACVR1 protein bound to a variety of different drug-like molecules. This information is being used to design safer and more specific molecules that are strictly necessary before patient clinical trials can be considered.
The research efforts on FOP are entirely supported in Oxford by monies raised by patients and their families and friends being paid into the University of Oxford FOP Research Fund. The research team owes a great debt to these individuals for their extensive efforts to support this work. They are greatly encouraged by their contact with patients and families and are striving to accelerate knowledge on FOP to achieve the therapeutic goal.