Hormone Found to Extend Life of Arthritic Knees and Hips

September 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—A team of researchers treated mice with arthritic joints using an existing osteoporosis drug and found that the hormone is the first drug to not only prevent cartilage loss, but regenerates new cartilage as well. This important study gives hopes to the many sufferers of diseased joints who are facing the prospect of joint replacement surgeries.

The study was conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center. Although conducted on tiny mice knees, the researchers say the model closely mimics human osteoarthritis that develops following knee injuries.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative and painful condition that is expected to affect more than 50 million Americans by 2020. Cartilage loss can occur with age and as the result of a prior injury. Severe Osteoarthritis occurs when chondrocyte cells mutate to produce bone in place of shock-absorbing layers of cartilage, causing severe pain, inflammation and the eventual destruction of the joint.

The Parathyroid hormone (PTH), known as teriparatide in drug form, is currently used to treat bone loss in post menopausal women, and was also found to stimulate the growth of cartilage in mice, reversing the mutation of chondrocyte cells.

Lead researcher Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D., professor within the Department of Orthopaedics, is amazed at the results of the study using PTH, noting that this is the first drug ever found to prevent and reverse cartilage loss in joints.

“Right now physicians have no way to bring back cartilage in patients who have lost it to osteoarthritis. “Our current results, at least in mice, show that we can inhibit cartilage degeneration and improve the volume of cartilage in diseased joints,” said Rosier.

The researcher administered PTH to randomized groups of mice for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks the group receiving PTH showed approximately 27 percent more joint cartilage. Another test group was given delayed treatment with the hormone 8 weeks after injury and remarkably, that group showed a greater improvement of 35 percent more cartilage.

The greater improvement in the delayed group indicates that the hormone also regenerates lost cartilage.

The researchers plan to continue with their research on the PTH hormone using other animal groups before beginning clinical trials on human patients.

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