During a recent study, researchers report that two molecules have been pinpointed as a potential biomarker for measuring cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis (OA). The study, conducted by Detroit, Mich-based Henry Ford Hospital researchers, suggested that the concentration of two non-coding RNAs in the blood were linked to mild cartilage damage in 30 patients a year following reconstruction surgery. The reconstruction surgery targeted the repair of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. 

According to researchers, the study encompassed 121 Canadian patients though the years of 2006 to 2011. Patients reportedly underwent MRIs and blood tests following their surgeries. Researchers add that the study was a collaborative research effort of Henry Ford, University of Guelph,  Ontario, Canada, and University of Toronto. Gary Gibson, PhD, director of Henry Ford’s Bone and Joint Center led the study. “Our results suggest we have identified a long-awaited biomarker for this leading cause of disability,” Gibson explains.

While developing a biomarker for OA has eluded researchers in the past, Gibson emphasizes that the recent research exhibits potential treatment implications for preventing the progression of the disease, and that, “The next step is to expand the number of patients studied and determine whether the degree in blood concentration can determine if the cartilage damage will worsen over time,” Gibson says. Further steps in the research are geared toward ultimately finding a biomarker that exhibits potential to prevent OA progression.

Source: Henry Ford Health System