OCT 17, 2020 8:00 AM PDT

Imaging Innovation Set to Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

In osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage that cushions bones begins to break down, causing debilitating pain and stiffness. It’s the most common form of degenerative joint disease, affecting almost 240 million people around the world.

Australian researchers have developed a cutting edge imaging technique to visualize the signs of osteoarthritis. Using mass spectrometry imaging, the scientists were able to paint a molecular picture of osteoarthritic cartilage, revealing that damaged tissue had numerous signature patterns of the expression of different sugars. The study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

"It is one of the most common degenerative joint diseases, yet there are limited diagnostic tools, few treatment options and no cure," said lead scientist Paul Anderson from the University of South Australia.

For now, diagnostics rely on biomarkers present in bodily fluids — a test that lacks both precision and accuracy. The new imaging platform can map changes on molecular level in different anatomical regions, thus helping to inform optimal clinical strategies to slow the progression of the condition. Mass spectrometry already has a stellar track record in diagnostic settings, demonstrating its efficacy in identifying cancer biomarkers, for example.

“To date, diagnosing osteoarthritis has relied heavily on x-rays or MRI, but these provide limited information and don't detect biomolecular changes that signal cartilage and bone abnormalities,” said Olivia Lee, a graduate student who contributed to the study.

“By contrast, alternative imaging methods such as MSI can identify specific molecules and organic compounds in the tissue section." Osteoarthritis is a heavy burden on healthcare systems and patients due to loss of work productivity, costs of treatments, and the diminished quality of life during osteoarthritis flare ups. These next generation diagnostic technologies are a light at the end of the tunnel for transforming osteoarthritis standards of care.

Sources: International Journal of Molecular Sciences, University of South Australia.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
JUL 23, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Prostate Cancer: To Treat or Not to Treat
JUL 23, 2020
Prostate Cancer: To Treat or Not to Treat
After a prostate cancer diagnosis, urologists do not always initiate immediate clinical intervention. In those with Low- ...
JUL 27, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Guidance for Optimization of a Real-Time qPCR Assay
JUL 27, 2020
Guidance for Optimization of a Real-Time qPCR Assay
Optimizing the formulation of reagents for your qPCR assay requires careful experimental design that looks across severa ...
JUL 25, 2020
Cardiology
Neurofibromatosis and How It Affects Heart Health
JUL 25, 2020
Neurofibromatosis and How It Affects Heart Health
Genetic diseases are persistent and often cause minor issues that can develop into more prominent problems later. Take n ...
JUL 24, 2020
Immunology
Telling the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
JUL 24, 2020
Telling the Difference Between Eczema and Psoriasis
It can be extremely different even for professionals to tell the difference between psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder, a ...
JUL 27, 2020
Cancer
Identifying Tumor Cells in the Blood with Artificial Intelligence
JUL 27, 2020
Identifying Tumor Cells in the Blood with Artificial Intelligence
Cancer diagnostics is an area of keen interest in the fight against cancer. Cancer often slips by routine checkups and v ...
Loading Comments...