26 July 2013
A protein found mainly in healthy cartilage may hold the key to treating osteoarthritis without resorting to hip or knee replacement surgery, scientists say.
Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London added a protein called CNP to a synthetic gel of damaged cartilage in the lab.
They then compressed the gel and exposed it to forces to simulate a person doing moderate exercise.
Tests revealed that CNP's effects change as a person's cartilage degenerates with age.
The team also discovered two new proteins that appear to have protective anti-inflammatory and reparative effects.
Co-author Dr Nick Peake, whose findings are published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, said the results are early but "could be useful in treating osteoarthritis".
He added: "The important observation is the complementary effect of the CNP protein and the effect of compression on the cells. This multiplies the beneficial effects of both, resulting in reduced inflammation and cartilage repair."
Future studies will attempt to repeat the results in animals with osteoarthritis before commencing clinical tests.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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