Using naturally-occurring mutant mice with a defective collagen gene, scientists at Harvard have identified a signaling molecule involved in one of the most common causes of disability among the elderly in the United States, osteoarthritis. Inhibitors of this molecules signaling may eventually be used to slow down the progression of the disease, thus helping to relieve chronic pain in a large segment of the population.
The research appears as the "Paper of the Week" in the January 7 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology journal.
It is estimated that all individuals over the age of 75 are afflicted with osteoarthritis. The disease, which is actually a group of overlapping but distinct diseases with similar clinical outcomes, is most common form of arthritis. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, which cushions the ends of bones, in the joints of the knees, hips, feet and back. This cartilage breakdown causes the bones to rub against each other, resulting in pain and loss of movement.
Nicole Kresge | EurekAlert!
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