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Currently, no effective therapies exist for fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare congenital syndrome in which heterotopic bone is formed in soft tissues due to dysregulated activity of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) receptor kinase ALK2/ACVR1. From a screen of known biologically active compounds, we identified saracatinib as a potent ALK2 kinase inhibitor. In enzymatic and cell-based assays, saracatinib preferentially inhibited ALK2 compared with other receptors of the BMP/TGFb signaling pathway, and induced dorsalization in zebrafish embryos consistent with BMP antagonism. We further tested the efficacy of saracatinib using an inducible ACVR1Q207D transgenic mouse line, which provides a model of heterotopic ossification, as well as an inducible ACVR1R206H knock-in, which serves as a genetically and physiologically faithful model of FOP. In both models, saracatinib was well tolerated and potently inhibited the development of heterotopic ossification even when administered transiently following soft tissue injury. Together, these data suggest that saracatinib is an efficacious clinical candidate for repositioning in the treatment of FOP, offering an accelerated path to clinical proof of efficacy studies and potentially significant benefits to individuals with this devastating condition.

Original publication




Journal article


JCI Insight

Publication Date



Bone Biology, Drug screens, Growth factors, Protein kinases, Therapeutics