In a new study, researchers have found a new type of treatment for osteoarthritis, which shows promise for eventual use in human patients.
It is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring joint lubricant that binds to the surface of cartilage in joints.
It can act as a cushion during high-impact activities, such as running and jumping.
The treatment was developed by Cornell University biomedical engineers.
In the new study, the team focused on a naturally occurring joint lubricant called lubricin.
It is the production of which declines following traumatic injuries to a joint, such as a ligament tear in a knee.
The knee is lubricated in two ways—hydrodynamic mode and boundary mode.
Hydrodynamic mode lubrication occurs when the joint is moving fast and there isn’t a strong force pushing down on it.
The boundary mode lubrication is necessary when strong forces are pushing down on the joint, such as those that occur during running or jumping.
Previous research has shown that when the production lubricant goes down, it creates higher contact between the surfaces of the joint and, over time, it leads to osteoarthritis
In the study, the researchers developed a synthetic polymer that mimics the function of lubricin and is much easier to produce.
They tested the treatment in clinical studies with dogs that have osteoarthritis.
The team says that once they finalize the efficacy study in dogs, they will be in a very good position to market the material for veterinary osteoarthritis treatment.
From there, the human market for a lubricin substitute should follow, just as HA has been made available for human use, mainly in knees.
The lead author of the study is David Putnam, a professor at the College of Engineering.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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