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Lubricin Could Prove The Key To OA Prevention

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A US research team from Rhode Island Hospital has made a discovery that could result in an effective treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) or a preventive solution for people genetically predisposed to this painful joint disease. The answer seems to lie in lubricin and the discovery was made with the help of mice.

Lubricin is a protein that the human body produces naturally and its addition to joint fluid may hold the key to OA prevention or at least lower risk of developing the disease. Led by Dr Gregory D Jay, the researchers studied mice, whose knees genetically lack lubricin. This results in aggressive arthritis regardless of the high levels of hyaluronic acid in the synovial fluid. Absence of lubricin leads to higher friction, which in turn causes cartilage cell death despite the concentration of hyaluronic acid. The findings of the study call into question the practice of injecting patients´ joints with hyaluronic acid alone.

As Dr Jay pointed out, there are currently no disease-modifying OA treatments. People who suffer from this degenerative joint disease have to either undergo total joint replacement surgery or spend their lives dealing with pain on a daily basis. However, the study results have added support to the theory that a lubricin replacement injected into joint fluid may prevent OA in genetically predisposed patients or those who have sustained serious joint trauma.

Dr Jay went on to add that the team was working on a lubricin replacement, hoping it would significantly improve treatment options and prevention measures for people with early OA or joint injuries.