Oliver Bird Rheumatism Programme PhD student Lauren Whyte (pictured) has been instrumental in discovering a new way in which cells that destroy bone can be controlled.
Lauren’s research has shown that a protein called GPR55 found in bone cells can regulate the activity of osteoclasts, bone cells that remove old bone. Lauren is part of a research team led by Professor Mike Rogers and Professor Ruth Ross at the University of Aberdeen,
The team also found that GPR55 is activated by compounds found in the body and can also be blocked by cannabidiol - a constituent in cannabis known as CBD.
Lauren’s research showed that activation of GPR55 caused the osteoclasts to destroy more bone. Studies also revealed that blocking the protein stopped osteoclasts from chewing away at the bone, resulting in an increased bone mass.
The finding is highly relevant to the treatment of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer, all of which cause skeletal damage.
About Lauren Whyte
Lauren joined the Oliver Bird Rheumatism Programme having obtained a first class honours degree in Biomedical Sciences (Pharmacology) from the University of Aberdeen. She is now undertaking a PhD at the same university within the Bone and Musculoskeletal research programme. She has recently received the Predoctoral ICRS Scientific Achievement Award for best oral presentation at the 18th Annual International Cannabinoid Research Society Conference.