Discovery Could Lead to Innovative Arthritis Treatment
Tiny particles released by cells could be used as a new way to treat arthritis, according to a new study at Queen Mary University of London.
Scientists there wanted to see what the microscopic, fluid-filled particles, known as microvesicles, do once they reach a person's joints. Cells and other small particles generally have a hard time penetrating cartilage, which makes delivering medications to the joints of people with arthritis particularly difficult. But microvesicles have been found to accumulate inside joints.
For their study, published in the journal _Science Translational Medicine, _the researchers, working with mice with arthritis, found that with animals that were geneticially modified to have less microvesicle production there was more cartilage damage. But when mice were treated with more microvesicles, there was less cartilage damage.
While more research is needed, the study suggests that microvesicles could be used as a treatment for people suffering from cartilage damage due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or injuries. The researchers believe it may be possible to "fortify" the microvesicles with therapeutic agents, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
More than 52 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis.