Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First-Ever Study: Lack of Critical Lubricant Causes Wear in Joints

07.11.2007
For the first time, researchers have linked increased friction with early wear in the joints of animals. Work led by Brown University physician and engineer Gregory Jay, M.D., shows mice that do not produce the protein lubricin begin to show wear in their joints less than two weeks after birth. This finding not only points up the protective power of lubricin but also suggests that it could be used to prevent joint wear after an injury.

Mice that don’t produce lubricin, a thin film of protein found in the cartilage of joints, showed early wear and higher friction in their joints, a new study led by Brown University researchers shows.

This link between increased friction and early wear in joints is a first; no other team of scientists has proven this association before. The finding, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, sheds important light on how joints work. The discovery also suggests that lubricin, or a close cousin, could be injected directly into hips, knees or other joints inflamed from arthritis or injury – a preventive treatment that could reduce the need for painful and costly joint replacement surgery.

In an editorial that accompanies the journal article, orthopedics researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago call the research an “important contribution to the field” and note that the use of biomolecules like lubricin to prevent joint wear “could have a substantial clinical impact, if successful.”

Gregory Jay, M.D, a Rhode Island Hospital emergency physician and an associate professor of emergency medicine and engineering at Brown, led the research. For 20 years, Jay has studied lubricin’s role as a “boundary lubricant” by reducing friction between opposing layers of cartilage inside joints. In this new work, Jay and his colleagues set out to answer the next question: Does reducing friction actually prevent wear, or surface damage, in joints?

To find out, Jay and his team studied cartilage from the knees of mice that don’t produce lubricin. Directly after birth, the cartilage was smooth. But in as little as two weeks, researchers found, the cartilage began to show signs of wear. Under an electron microscope, scientists could see that the collagen fibers that cartilage is composed of were breaking up, giving the surface a rough, frayed appearance. This damage is called wear, an early sign of joint disease or injury.

Jay and his team then took the work a step further. To better understand how lubricin works, they tried to see the structure of the film. So they put a tiny bit of the protein under an atomic force microscope. At the nanoscale, the molecule appeared as a mesh – row upon row of interlocking fibers – that could repel a microscope probe. This repulsion, created with water and electrical charges, shows how lubricin acts as a buffer, keeping opposing layers of cartilage apart.

“We demonstrated that lubricin reduces both friction and wear and also showed how, on a molecular level, it does this work in the body,” Jay said. “What’s exciting are the clinical implications. Arthritis and sports injuries damage the joints of thousands of people in the United States and millions of people worldwide each year. Our aim is to make a treatment that can actually prevent wear in the joints.”

Through Rhode Island Hospital, Jay has filed two patents on the protein and its sequences and, in 2004, helped form Tribologics, a biotech company formed out of Rhode Island Hospital. The Massaschusetts-based business is developing an injection treatment for inflamed joints that contains lubricin.

Members of the research team included Jahn Torres, a former Brown graduate student in engineering; David Rhee, a former graduate student at Case Western Reserve University; Heikki Helminen, M.D., and Mika Hytinnen, M.D., from the University of Kuopio in Finland; Chung-Ja Cha, a research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital; Khaled Elsaid, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rhode Island Hospital; Kyung-Suk Kim, a professor of engineering at Brown; and Yajun Cui, M.D., and Matthew Warman, M.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskelatal and Skin Diseases funded the work, along with the Academy of Finland, the McCutchen Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.

Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.brown.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study shows nanoscale pendulum coupling
05.07.2019 | University of Barcelona

nachricht New unprinting method can help recycle paper and curb environmental costs
26.06.2019 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure

Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.

Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Genetic differences between strains of Epstein-Barr virus can alter its activity

18.07.2019 | Health and Medicine

Algae-killing viruses spur nutrient recycling in oceans

18.07.2019 | Life Sciences

Machine learning platform guides pancreatic cyst management in patients

18.07.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>