There is new osteoarthritis research that holds great promise to relieve the pain and loss of function for patients. Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in America and worldwide with 27 million Americans affected.
Osteoarthritis symptoms tend to be due to “wear and tear” on or injury to the joint tissues. These symptoms often manifest in the form of pain, a grinding sensation and inflammation. However, this form of arthritis does not involve immune system.
Many osteoarthritis research scientists are studying cartilage in the joint. Cartilage forms the lubricating surface of the joint. Patients often need osteoarthritis treatment because this area of the joint has been damaged, either through normal, repetitive use or by injury.
Osteoarthritis symptoms, such as grinding of bone-on-bone, result in pain, tissue damage, bone damage, limited joint movement and deformities. The Arthritis National Research Foundation is committed to funding osteoarthritis research to better understand the causes of osteoarthritis. The research studies below are at the forefront in finding osteoarthritis treatment and understanding the causes so we can find a cure.
Denis Evseenko, MD, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Evseenko is leading a study of stem cell researchers who tracked the early development of human joint cartilage.
Articular cartilage is a type of connective tissue that covers the surfaces of bones within synovial joints. Articular cartilage injury and the lack of cartilage regeneration often lead to osteoarthritis. Recent studies carried out by Dr. Evseenko and his lab and others have shown that stem/progenitor cells can partially repair damage cartilage, but more work is needed to increase the efficiency of this therapy.
Dr. Evseenko uses a novel approach based on his recent findings and the development of an essential model to test this and subsequent therapeutic methods. He will use a highly purified population of cartilage stem cells identified in his lab’s recent studies of normal human cartilage development.
During this second year of his ANRF-funded study, Dr. Evseenko will employ this novel approach in a large animal model of joint injury and apply a highly innovative robotic approach to assess the biomechanical properties of repaired joints, in addition to the routine microscopic study of the tissues.
Potential: The ultimate objective of the proposed project is to develop new therapeutic approaches for articular cartilage restoration, which in turn will reduce the morbidity from acute cartilage injuries and degenerative joint disease. This could be a biological roadmap for therapies to repair cartilage defects and damage from osteoarthritis and may eliminate the need for joint replacement surgery in the near future.
Nidhi Bhutani, PhD
Dr. Bhutani, as part of a special grant co-funded with the American Federation for Aging Research, is studying how osteoarthritis relates to aging.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis that affects approximately 27 million people in U.S. alone. Current treatments are, however, limited to pain management mainly because of a lack of understanding of the initiation and early stages of the disease. No disease-modifying OA drug is available. OA is marked by joint dysfunction and particularly cartilage degeneration caused by the native cartilage cells themselves.
Dr. Bhutani’s recent studies have identified that normal and OA cartilage cells from patients differ greatly in the function of a novel family of enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for modifying the DNA and such ‘epigenetic’ modifications affect widespread gene expression; therefore, these enzymes can be central regulators of the gene expression changes in OA.
Dr. Bhutani’s research will identify the genes that are regulated by these particular enzymes in OA cartilage to understand how they affect the initiation and progression of OA. Using mice that lack these enzymes, she will test how the absence of this regulator will modulate OA.
Potential: Dr. Bhutani will evaluate whether a pharmacological manipulation of these enzymes (and their targets) may be a new therapy in OA.
Quanjun Cui, MD at University of Virginia is studying the use of bone marrow stem cells which produce bone growth factors, utilizing bi-pedal animals that more closely imitate humans.
Result: These stem cells could be employed to regenerate damaged bone tissues.
Timothy Griffin, PhD at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City is studying how the onset of Osteoarthritis is caused by an increase in cartilage oxidation. His lab has shown that some exercise (like walking and jogging) is beneficial, increasing cartilage structural properties and resistance to OA, while other types of altered joint loads (like injury and obesity) are detrimental, increasing oxidation and hastening the breakdown of cartilage and development of OA.
Result: Understanding this process may lead to development of therapies to maintain healthy cartilage and prevent OA.
Shigeru Miyaki, PhD at Scripps Research Institute in LA Jolla, CA discovered a natural molecule in the body that regulates the growth of cartilage.
Result: The findings are exciting and could lead to new methods to repair and replace damaged cartilage in individuals suffering with OA.
Yingcui Li, PhD at Hartford University in Hartford, CT has developed a mouse model for the genetic analysis of Hyaluronan (a large molecule made by cartilage cells) and its function in osteoarthritis.
Potential: Her research provides insight into new targets and reveals new approaches for osteoarthritis treatment, including novel drug target or gene therapy.