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Achondroplasia is a rare genetic disease characterized by abnormal bone development, resulting in short stature. It is caused by a single point mutation in the gene coding for fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3), which leads to prolonged activation upon ligand binding. To prevent excessive intracellular signaling and rescue the symptoms of achondroplasia, we have developed a recombinant protein therapeutic approach using a soluble form of human FGFR3 (sFGFR3), which acts as a decoy receptor and prevents FGF from binding to mutant FGFR3. sFGFR3 was injected subcutaneously to newborn Fgfr3ach/+ mice—the mouse model of achondroplasia—twice per week throughout the growth period during 3 weeks. Effective maturation of growth plate chondrocytes was restored in bones of treated mice, with a dose-dependent enhancement of skeletal growth in Fgfr3ach/+ mice. This resulted in normal stature and a significant decrease in mortality and associated complications, without any evidence of toxicity. These results describe a new approach for restoring bone growth and suggest that sFGFR3 could be a potential therapy for children with achondroplasia and related disorders.
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