New MIT Study Reveals the Potential to Prevent Arthritis

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According to a new research undertaken by MIT, it was identified that a steroid drug which is more commonly been used to treat inflammatory diseases can now also be used to prevent osteoarthritis if they are soon administered in people after they suffer injuries. It was found that more than 10% of 27 million Americans suffer from arthritis because of injury. This degrades the cartilage which steadily deteriorates the joints, especially the knees.


The senior author of study, Alan Grodzinsky who is also the professor of biological, mechanical and electrical engineering and director of MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering told that it is actually repurposing an existing drug. The injuries are more common among people who are risk takers. Sportsmen who are actively involved in sports like basketball or skiing are a higher risk of tearing ligaments. Along with this, people who are in military service and defense personnel are also exposed to these types of injuries. In addition, car accidents are also more common source of joint injuries. The injuries caused in the young life degrade further causing problems in the later stage of life, eventually resulting in arthritis. . Most of these injuries are treated using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen which immediately reduces the pain and swelling and thereafter, if there is a requirement of surgery, it would be performed to stabilize the joints. However, in the new study, MIT has contradicted this kind of passive treatment.


In this study, the researchers used both human and bovine cartilage tissue and damaged them, then treated with inflammatory proteins called cytokines. Cytokines hasten cartilage breakdown. However, when the damaged tissue was treated immediately with glucocorticoid dexamethasone, cartilage breakdown was immediately prevented. Incidentally, the doctors administer this drug on elderly people who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.


Research is still being undertaken to study if dexamethasone can reverse cartilage damage which has already been occurred. The studies are required to be conducted on animals with injuries and if the results are found to be positive, then it would be tried on human. If the study turns out to be successful, then there will be a vast shift in the way the injuries are treated now. There is no need for surgery and the chronic problems would be prevented in the later life. There will also be a significant reduction in the number of people who are suffering osteoarthritis.


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