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Disc Medicine Expands Scientific Advisory Board with Leading Experts in Hepcidin Biology

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Disc Medicine, a company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutic candidates for serious and debilitating hematologic diseases, today announced the appointment of Tomas Ganz, MD, PhD and Elizabeta Nemeth, PhD to its scientific advisory board, adding valuable expertise in hepcidin biology.

Disc Medicine is a hematology company harnessing new insights in hepcidin biology to address ineffective red blood cell production (erythropoiesis) in hematologic diseases. Focused on the hepcidin pathway, the master regulator of iron metabolism, Disc is advancing first-in-class therapies to transform the treatment of hematologic diseases. (PRNewsfoto/Disc Medicine)

“We are thrilled to welcome  Dr. Ganz and Dr. Nemeth to our Scientific Advisory Board, particularly at such an exciting time in a field that they helped pioneer,” said John Quisel, JD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer at Disc Medicine. “Together they were instrumental in characterizing the fundamental role of hepcidin in iron homeostasis, and I’m delighted to be working with them as we advance our hepcidin-targeted programs into the clinic.”

Dr. Ganz is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where he studies the role of small peptide regulators in human physiology and disease and is credited for the discovery of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin. Dr. Ganz received his PhD in Applied Physics from Caltech and his MD from UCLA, joining UCLA as a faculty member in 1983 after having completed training in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Medicine. In 2005 he received the Marcel Simon Prize of the International Bioiron Society for the discovery of hepcidin and in 2014 was honored by the E. Donnall Thomas Award from the American Society of Hematology for his research in iron homeostasis, including the discovery of the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin and investigation of its roles in iron metabolism.

“It has been immensely gratifying to see the hepcidin story unfold as our understanding of hepcidin’s role across different diseases has grown,” said Tomas Ganz, MD PhD. “Disc has taken a compelling approach to targeting hepcidin with two programs guided by human genetic findings. I’m delighted to be a part of this vision, particularly as they look to enter the clinic with their first program next year.”

Dr. Nemeth is a Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Director of the UCLA Center for Iron Disorders. Dr. Nemeth received her PhD in Cell, Molecular and Neurosciences at the University of Hawaii and completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying the pathobiology of hepcidin at UCLA. During her tenure she has made major contributions to the understanding of iron homeostasis and its dysregulation in disease, such as characterizing the regulation of hepcidin production by inflammation and iron and elucidating the mechanism of action of hepcidin in regulating dietary iron absorption and release from stores. Dr. Nemeth also described the role of hepcidin in various iron disorders including hereditary hemochromatosis, iron-loading anemias and iron-restricted anemias. Dr. Nemeth was a standing member of the Molecular and Cellular Hematology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health, is President-Elect of the International BioIron Society, and an associate editor of the American Journal of Hematology. Dr. Ganz and Nemeth co-founded three biotechnology companies focused on hepcidin-targeted

3D metal printer at College of Dental Medicine expands possibilities for innovation

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IMAGE: The component that Renne was able to print for the ZIAN team.
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Credit: MUSC

When the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences at the Medical University of South Carolina needed to bring to life a neurosurgeon’s idea for better instrumentation for sacroiliac surgery, there was one obvious partner to turn to: the MUSC College of Dental Medicine.

The college is the only dental program in the nation to have the Sisma Mysint100 3D selective laser fusion printer that creates 3D prints from metal rather than plastic, and Walter Renne, D.M.D., a professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and assistant dean of innovation and digital dentistry, is eager to see what it can do.

“3D printing is how we get stuff from our imagination into reality. One of the issues in the past was most of what we could print was plastic, and plastic degrades. You need something to actually function,” he said. “Now, instead of imagining something and developing a plastic prototype that I can look at, I can imagine something and develop a real, usable final product that can be put into a drill or placed in a patient’s mouth. It’s really exciting to have that at the university.”

The manufacturer, Sisma, donated the printer about six months ago. Renne said Sisma wanted its latest device to find a home in a college that would think up creative and innovative uses for it. Those uses aren’t limited to dentistry, however.

The college and ZIAN have collaborated in the past, so it was natural for ZIAN to turn to Renne and colleagues for help with this project, which started with an idea from Stephen Kalhorn, M.D., a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Kalhorn has worked several times before with ZIAN, a technology accelerator that exists to help MUSC’s medical providers to develop their ideas for new devices or device improvements.

“I run things by them because then I can spend the majority of my time in the operating room actively helping patients,” he said. “I can literally drop off a napkin sketch at a ZIAN engineer’s desk or even less than that. There’s even been times that I’ve just drawn on the dry-erase board in the OR and taken a picture and sent it to them, and they’re off to the races.”

This time, Kalhorn had an idea to improve sacroiliac joint fusion surgery. The sacroiliac joint is where the pelvis and spine meet; it is also a source of lower back pain. Fusion surgery encourages the two bones to grow together into one so there is no wiggle room between the two.

Bony fusion requires three elements, Kalhorn explained: stabilization, such as when a cast is placed on a broken limb; decortication, which is the removal of the top layer of tissue to ensure there’s no cartilage or fibrous material blocking the bone cells from building a bridge between the two bones; and compression, whereby the pressure encourages more bone growth. But nothing on the