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!
An experimental Alzheimer's drug reverses genetic changes thought to spur the disease
04.05.2016 | Rockefeller University
Research points to a new treatment for pancreatic cancer
04.05.2016 | Purdue University
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.
Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences