Bioengineered osteopontin to treat vascular calcification or 'hardening of the arteries'


To test the ability of an optimized osteopontin molecule to inhibit or reverse calcium deposition in blood vessels

Anticipated Impact: 

Commercialization of a new drug by a Washington-based company that will extend survival in individuals with heart disease


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and vascular calcification — the deposition of calcium phosphate in blood vessels — is a major risk factor for and independent predictor of mortality. There are no drugs that directly treat vascular calcification. While a naturally occurring molecule called osteopontin can block calcification, it also promotes inflammation. Dr. Giachelli will examine the ability of a modified osteopontin to safely treat vascular calcification in vivo while avoiding inflammation. Her ultimate goal is to commercialize a new drug to improve survival of millions of individuals with cardiovascular disease. Calcionics Corporation, a Washington-based startup company, is expected to lead commercialization efforts.

See also:

Tissue Calcification Therapies

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Cecilia Giachelli
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Bioengineered osteopontin to treat vascular calcification or 'hardening of the arteries'
Grant Cohort and Year:
2009 Summer Commercialization (04)
Grant Period:
05/01/2010 - 04/30/2012 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
An optimized peptide for mouse osteopontin was cloned into a bacterial expression system and expressed protein was produced and purified. Purified protein was phosphorylated in vitro and shown to inhibit calcification of smooth muscle cells in vitro. This protein was then used to treat CKD mice to determine whether it could induce regression of vascular medial calcification. While robust vascular calcification was achieved in CKD mice after ~3 wks on a high phosphate diet, treatment with osteopontin peptide (IP) three times per week did not reduce vessel mineralization.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46, 48

Health Impacts

Tissue Calcification Therapies