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Through genetic manipulation: researchers succeeded in preventing degenerative joint disease

As soon as the disease develops, significant damage has already occurred that cannot be cured, but the development of a unique genetic strain allowed the university researchers to stop the pain and erosion. The findings can predict the disease after joint trauma and start critical medical treatment

degenerative joint disease. Image:
degenerative joint disease. Image:

In a new study published recently In the leading journal PNAS, the university researchers succeeded in preventing the development of degenerative joint disease, which affects approximately 300 million people all over the world. The disease develops slowly and is not felt for decades until the sudden onset of pain and movement limitations. The study was conducted by Prof. Mona Dvir-Ginzberg and Dr. Ginan Alian from the Faculty of Dentistry at the university.

Osteoarthritis is a disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away due to local inflammation that causes a change in the balance of the load in weight-bearing joints, such as the knee or hip. The disease develops gradually and is not noticed until symptoms of pain and movement limitation appear. "At these stages there has already been significant damage to the joint that cannot be cured. Since the disease is very common, the purpose of the study was to understand what causes its development, and above all - whether it is possible to prevent its deterioration", explains Prof. Dvir-Ginzberg. The research was carried out on animal models in order to test the changes in all parts of the joint after experiencing trauma. Based on unique genetic strains developed by Prof. Veronique Lefebvre from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Prof. Hai-Hui Xue from the Hackensack University Medical Center in the USA, the research team sought to understand the structural changes in the joint. Prof. Dvir-Ginzberg says that "The joints were examined by histological methods and micro-CT With the help of Dr. Mitna Dormont and Dr. George Betchon. In addition, with the help of Little Zachariah and Dr. Michael Klotstein, we used genetic sequencing methods to understand the mechanisms that changed between the strain resistant to the disease and the strain that accelerated it."

The researchers found that after trauma there is a significant accumulation of calcium deposits in the tissues in the outer joint area, known as calcification. According to them, it is caused by a specific type of protein that is responsible for the process and it erodes the inner joint. Through a combined drug treatment carried out by Idan Carmon and the development of a unique genetic strain devoid of the protein, the researchers were able to effectively prevent the development of calcification, and subsequently the erosion and pain. The research findings are a basis for predicting degenerative joint disease after trauma, which can be checked with simple radiographic means even without the need for an MRI. "If you check the joint immediately after the trauma, already in the first stages, you can start local treatment to prevent the disease and erosion", concludes Dr. Elian.

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