Engineering Monocytes to Treat Ectopic Calcification


To develop technologies for local human cell therapies that can treat or prevent tissue calcification

Anticipated Impact: 

Improved health outcomes and quality of life for individuals with cardiovascular disease and other conditions associated with inappropriate tissue calcification


Ectopic calcification, or calcification of soft tissues, occurs in a variety of diseases and injuries and is especially harmful to the mechanical functions of joints, valves, blood vessels and muscles. There is currently no treatment for this condition. The investigators will seek to control ectopic calcification by halting mineral deposition and encouraging mineral re-absorption. The research team will use gene and protein delivery techniques to promote anti-calcification molecule release at sites of ectopic calcification. This project seeks to prolong the life of bioprosthetic devices like heart valves that are prone to early calcification and failure, and to provide a therapy to deter secondary calcification that can develop in certain conditions such as injury and burns. A treatment to prevent ectopic calcification would have substantial health, quality of life, productivity and economic benefits for the many Washingtonians afflicted by this problem. The local human cell therapy technologies being developed by this research team will also increase Washington State’s competitiveness in the area of cell therapy.

2011 LSDF/WBBA Open House Poster

Tissue Calcification Therapies

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Cecilia Giachelli
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Engineering Monocytes to Treat Ectopic Calcification
Grant Cohort and Year:
2008 Innovative Research Projects to Improve Health and Health Care (01)
Grant Period:
12/10/2008 - 12/09/2012 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
A method for bioengineering cells that can be induced to undergo osteoclastic differentiation in response to a small molecule dimerizer drug was developed. The bioengineered osteoclasts are able to resorb mineral from two dimensional surfaces as well as three dimensional mineralized materials. A paper describing this technology has been submitted, and a grant to further develop this technology and assess its utility in ectopic calcification in vivo has been awarded. We have also developed a novel method for large scale production and selection of genetically engineered cells. A paper on this technology has been published.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Tissue Calcification Therapies