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Beat Osteoarthritis to the Punch with Biomarkers

Daniel Kim Views  

Blood biomarkers can predict osteoarthritis onset 8 years earlier than X-ray images.

A study published in the scientific journal Science Advances shows that the onset of osteoarthritis can be predicted eight years earlier than X-ray images by testing blood biomarkers.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is an irreversible degenerative disease. However, the progression of the disease can be managed with weight loss, exercise, and drug treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). By the time OA is diagnosed with X-ray images, the degeneration of cartilage is already in progress, and there is a high likelihood of pain.

Moreover, as the prevalence of OA is on the rise, the research team focused on early diagnosis of OA. They aimed to find a method to detect OA before damage occurs and ahead of X-ray images.

A research team from Duke University in North Carolina conducted a study with 200 white women aged 45–65 selected from the Chingford 1,000 Women study.

The 200 participants had no history of rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or knee injuries requiring more than a week of rest. After ten years of follow-up observation, about half of the women developed knee OA, and the other half, matched for age and body mass index (BMI), served as a control group.

During the observation period, the women participated in the Chingford study and underwent blood tests and X-ray readings. The research team conducted a multiple reaction monitoring analysis of 165 peptides using blood samples from the second and sixth year of the study.

As a result, the research team identified six biomarkers that consistently predict OA.

They reported that they could accurately predict knee OA eight years ahead of detection by X-ray images using blood biomarkers. The accuracy of OA prediction using blood biomarkers was 77%, higher than the diagnostic accuracy using BMI or knee pain (51% and 57%, respectively).

Furthermore, the research team discovered that genes associated with the blood biomarkers predicting OA were activated in the knee joint’s cartilage and synovium.

Experts suggest that early prediction of OA is crucial as it cannot be treated and can lead to a compromised quality of life later on.

They find it promising that a blood test can predict knee OA before structural damage appears on X-ray images. They expect that measures can be taken early to slow or stop the progression of the disease in high-risk groups for knee OA.

Meanwhile, they advised that applying OA prediction using blood tests in actual clinical practice is still too early. Managing weight by regulating diet and exercising regularly is essential to prevent OA.

They hope to predict and diagnose OA more sensitively with non-imaging tests in the future and ultimately develop therapeutics and biologics that block the inflammatory process that leads to symptoms.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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