New clues to healing arthritis caused by traumatic injury

February 23rd, 2009 - 11:38 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) A strain of lab mice with ’superhealing’ powers not only resists inflammation after a knee injury, but also avoids developing arthritis at the spot in the long term, according to the latest research.
These findings illuminate the mechanisms of post-traumatic arthritis and could point to therapies for this condition, which commonly afflicts younger people who lose productivity during their prime working years.

“After a patient’s traumatic injury, orthopaedic surgeons realign the joint surface as anatomically as possible and then hope for the best,” said Steven A. Olson, principal investigator of the post-traumatic arthritis project and chief of the Duke University Medical Centre (DUMC) orthopaedic trauma section.

“They haven’t been thinking about why patients with injuries are subsequently getting arthritis. Our research examines how we could possibly prevent arthritis development with growth factors and anti-inflammatory therapies after a fracture, either before or at the time of the surgery to fix it.”

Olson said 10 percent of all arthritis cases - about 4.6 million - are post-traumatic arthritis patients, many of whom suffer for years and are too young for joint replacement surgeries. The economic cost thus is about $12.8 billion annually for this group, according to Arthritis Foundation statistics.

The scientists examined the differences in inflammatory response between two types of mice: one type known as superhealers (or MRL/MpJ) versus a strain of control mice (C57BL/6).

Previously, scientists discovered that the superhealer mice had such regenerative powers that holes made in their ears for lab identification purposes grew over completely with no sign of scar tissue. Earlier work done at Duke showed no differences between healthy and fractured limbs when the superhealers healed from a fracture of the knee joint, said a DUMC release.

The study was presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting, which began on Sunday.

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