A new mechanism of joint destruction caused by a natural material that grinds away healthy cartilage and worsens osteoarthritis has been identified in human hip joints for the first time by University of Liverpool scientists.
The scientists, with Professor Alan Boyde and colleagues from Queen Mary University of London, were studying the hip of a man with the genetic condition, alkaptonuria (AKU), This is a metabolic disease in which a substance called homogentisic acid accumulates in joint cartilage, causing changes to its physical properties.
The study revealed the presence of high density mineralised protrusions (HDMP), which have only been seen before in horses. These protrusions are caused as the body acts to fill in cracks in joint cartilage and can snap off, leading to sharp, dense particles in the joint which grind against healthy tissue.
To confirm the findings, the team studied eight hips donated for research by people with osteoarthritis and found the same results as in the alkaptonuria patient.
Professor Jim Gallagher led the study in Liverpool. He said: "There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but it is one of the leading causes of disability, causing immense pain and difficulty of movement to sufferers.
"The discovery of HDMP in humans means that for the first time we are seeing an important mechanism in the process which causes the disease. In effect these small, sharp particles could act like an abrasive powder scouring the surfaces of the joint."
The researchers studied the joint without taking out the calcium - a method which is typically used to make bones softer and easier to examine. This process, which involves using acid, would normally have the effect of destroying the HDMPs thus explaining why they have not been recognised before in humans.
Professor Gallagher, from the University's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease concluded: "Studying a rare illness like alkaptonuria is a worthwhile project in itself, but it can also help with new insights into much more common diseases.
"This is a case in point, and because of our work on alkaptonuria, we are now able to add a new piece to the puzzle of an illness that affects millions."
The study, published in the Journal of Anatomy, recommends that searching for these HDMPs should now be included in the study of patients with osteoarthritis.
The study was supported by the AKU Society and the Rosetrees Trust.
Read the full paper here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/joa.12226/full
Jamie Brown | Eurek Alert!
Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine