About Michael O. Thorner, MB, BS, DSc, FRCP, MACP:
Michael Thorner is Vice President, Endocrine Sciences of Lumos Pharma. Dr. Thorner most recently was Chair of the Department of Medicine and preceding that was Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Director of the Clinical Research Center at the University of Virginia. He was responsible for building the Pituitary Program and led a research group investigating the regulation of growth hormone secretion. He discovered growth hormone releasing hormone and was also instrumental in studies of growth hormone secretagogues including the early studies of LUM-201, previously known as MK-0677.
Dr. Thorner pioneered the use of dopamine agonist drugs in patients with prolactin-secreting pituitary tumors to restore normal prolactin levels, normal gonadal function, cessation of galactorrhea, and reduction of the size of the tumor, obviating the need for pituitary surgery. As a result of this work, medical treatment, instead of surgery, is now the standard of care for prolactin-secreting tumors. An astute clinical observation led to the discovery of the growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH). Dr. Thorner has done additional work in cloning the GHRH receptor and administering GHRH to demonstrate it selectively stimulates GH secretion and that idiopathic GH deficiency is most commonly due to GHRH deficiency. Thorner’s 24-hour infusion studies of GH releasing peptide (the synthetic peptide on which the secretagogue program was based) in normal subjects demonstrated that this compound could stimulate pulsatile GH secretion, and this was the basis for Merck Research Laboratories’ choice of a long-acting spiropiperidine analog for human studies. Thorner then led a team who demonstrated that GH secretion in the elderly can be stimulated in a physiologic, pulsatile fashion with a single daily oral dose of this GH secretagogue (MK-0677). This finding opened the door to restoration of GH secretion at a level similar to that seen in young adults. Daily administration of MK-0677 significantly increased GH and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels to those of healthy young adults without serious adverse effects. Mean fat-free mass decreased in the placebo group but increased in the MK-0677 group, as did body cell mass. Based on the study, Dr. Thorner successfully obtained a use patent for growth hormone secretagogues in the treatment of sarcopenia in the elderly and out-licensed MK-0677 from Merck. He formed Ammonett Pharma which initiated the further development of MK-0677 for treatment of children with short stature and growth hormone deficiency. He also obtained a use patent – Detecting and Treating Growth Hormone Deficiency – for the treatment of selected children with pediatric growth hormone deficiency with LUM-201. Lumos Pharma has taken over the program and LUM-201 is the product now being developed for phase 2 studies.
Dr. Thorner has over 300 peer-reviewed publications and 11 granted patents. Dr. Thorner graduated from Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London with MB, BS, and then obtained D.Sc from University of London and held fellowship training in endocrinology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital before being recruited to the University of Virginia. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association and was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.
Dr. Thorner retired from the University of Virginia in 2014 and is currently Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia and lives in Dedham, MA.