In 2019, the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland research team, led by William Horton, M.D., made an innovative discovery impacting the way physicians track a child’s growth rate. Through a simple fingerprick blood test, the team discovered a protein (biomarker CXM) that mirrors a child’s rate of bone growth. Since the discovery, Michelle Welborn, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, has analyzed how this blood test could help her improve care for patients with scoliosis and other spine conditions. “Assessing a patient’s growth is a vital factor in determining the treatment for patients with scoliosis,” said Dr. Welborn. “By determining the rate of growth in real-time, we can make sure that we are bracing patients for the correct amount of time and that we are performing surgery at the optimal time.
The utilization of biomarker CXM will enable us to improve treatment plans, and it can minimize the number of surgeries needed.” Last summer, the Scoliosis Research Society awarded the Thomas E. Whitecloud Award (in the category of Best Basic Science Paper) to Dr. Welborn for her work with the biomarker CXM.