I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a veterinary degree (1991) and PhD in orthopaedics (1995). After post-doctoral training at Purdue University, I took up a research-intensive faculty appointment in Orthopedic Surgery at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, where I set up and ran a program on preclinical orthopaedic animal models. In 2008, I moved to the veterinary school at The Ohio State University. As director of the Surgical Research Laboratory, I performed preclinical and clinical trials in the areas of total joint replacement, orthopaedic oncology, spine surgery, regenerative medicine and osteoarthritis. In September 2014, I was elected Professor of Small Animal Surgery at Cambridge. In this new position, I will combine my clinical interests in total joint replacement (with a particular emphasis on primary and revision total knee replacement) with an expanded preclinical and clinical research effort through the newly established Surgical Discovery Centre. We will also participate in campus-wide research initiatives such as the Cambridge Centre for Musculoskeletal Repair, Regeneration and Replacement (r3) and the Cambridge Cancer Centre.
Subject groups/Research projects
My laboratory is interested in the pathophysiology of primary and metastatic bone cancer, with a particular emphasis on paediatric bone cancer (osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma), breast and prostate cancer. The work with osteosarcoma utilizes both cell culture and rodent models to explore the molecular pathways that facilitate or drive the spread of tumour to the lung. In parallel with this discovery work, we are also conducting therapeutic trials on novel inhibitors of key signalling pathways that have been shown to regulate tumour growth and metastasis.
Skeletal complications of cancer therapy
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, endocrine therapy and radiation therapy are known to potentially injurious to the skeleton. Improvements in survival rates after cancer treatment mean that we are now seeing the consequences of treatment-associated bone damage. We are especially interested in the long-term effects of radiation therapy on bone. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo models, we have found that radiation injury affects both bone formation and bone resorption, leading to a profound loss of bone mass and an increased risk of fragility. Our work focuses on novel ways to prevent and reverse the effects of radiation therapy on bone, but it also has potentially broader implication the context of radiation exposure during long-term manned space missions, where the damaging effects of radiation may be synergistic with the known negative consequences of microgravity.
Bone regeneration and implant fixation
Long-term success with total joint replacement depends on the maintenance of robust fixation between the implant and the skeleton. We have significant experience with both small and large animal models of implant fixation. Current areas of emphasis include primary and revision total joint replacement, as well as percutaneous skeletal fixation for endo-/exo-prosthetic reconstruction following amputation.
Infection is an extremely challenging potential complication of orthopaedic surgery, especially when implants have been used. Our laboratory is studying new methods for preventing or treating implant-related infections, with a particular emphasis on the management of multi-drug resistant organisms such as MRSA and MRSP.
Many of the most important medical conditions seen in humans (cardiac disease; cancer; arthritis; infectious disease) are also seen in animals. Veterinary clinical trials provide a cost-effective and extremely promising approach to accelerating our ability to validate new drugs and devices, opening up new opportunities for delivering cutting edge care to both human and veterinary patients.
Chaffee B.K. and Allen M.J. (2013) A clinically relevant mouse model of osteosarcoma with spontaneous metastasis. In Vivo 27: 599-603.
Fahie M.A., Ortolano G.A., Guercio V., Schaffer J.A., Johnston G., Au J., Hettlich H., Phillips T., Allen M.J. and Bertone A.L. (2013) Clinical outcome using Canine Platelet Enhancement Therapy (C-PET) for osteoarthritis: a prospective, double-blinded, controlled, multi-center study. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 243: 1291-1297.
Allen M.J. (2012) Advances in total joint replacement in small animals. Journal of Small Animal Practice 53: 495-506
Mercurio A.D., Motta T., Green E., Noble G. Hart R.T. and Allen M.J. (2012) Effects of extensive circumferential periosteal stripping on the microstructure and mechanical properties of the murine femoral cortex. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 30: 561-568.
Arrington S.A., Fisher E.R., Willick G.E., Mann K.A and Allen M.J. (2010) Anabolic and antiresorptive drugs improve trabecular microarchitecture and reduce fracture risk following radiation therapy. Calcified Tissue International 87: 263-272.
Lisle J.L., Choi J.Y., Horton J.A., Allen M.J. and Damron T.A. (2008) Metastatic osteosarcoma gene expression differs in vitro and in vivo. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 466: 2071-2080.
Margulies B.S, Damron T.A. and Allen M.J. (2008) The differential effects of the radioprotectant drugs amifostine and sodium selenite in combination with radiation therapy on constituent bone cells, ewing’s sarcoma of bone tumor cells, and rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells in vitro. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 26: 1512-1519.
Arrington S.A., Schoonmaker J.E., Damron T.A., Mann K.A and Allen M.J. (2006) Temporal changes in bone mass and mechanical properties in a murine model of tumor osteolysis. Bone 38: 359-367.
Schneider A.,Kalikin L.M., Mattos A.C., Keller E.T., Allen M.J., Pienta K.J. and McCauley L.K. (2005) Bone turnover mediates preferential localization of prostate cancer in the skeleton. Endocrinology 146: 1727-1736.