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Molecule may be the secret to treating osteoarthritis

July 15, 2013

Approximately half of adults will experience osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee by the time they reach 85, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and the condition can create an obstacle in the path toward independent living. However, researchers in the U.K. believe they have discovered that a molecule could hold the key to treating cell death associated with the progression of OA.

The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Manchester and the University of Westminster, who were interested in what impact a protein known as urocortin has on the health of cells in the joints. They found that removing the molecule led to an increase in the death of chondrocyte cells. Conversely, when it was added to cartilage it protected those cells from damage. Researchers believe the findings could open a new door for treating OA.

"Discovering a role for this naturally occurring molecule in joint physiology opens up exciting new avenues of research towards the cause, prevention and, eventually, treatment of osteoarthritis," study author Dr. Ian Locke said. 

Although it might be some time until these results are implemented, there are still options at your disposal when it comes to reducing pain and discomfort caused by OA. According to the Mayo Clinic, gentle exercise such as walking, biking and swimming can help alleviate symptoms.