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Has the Cure for Osteoarthritis Been Found?

Mar 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Denver

Bone issues affect many seniors, some to the point of total mobility loss or pain with every step or movement.

A common ailment in this realm of medical conditions is osteoarthritis. Here are some facts on the disease, and the new research that may have just found effective treatment and prevention for it:

Fast Facts on Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of many degenerative joint diseases. It’s estimated that as many as 30 million American adults suffer from this condition, thereby making it the most common form of arthritis.

In essence, the body’s cartilage breaks down, thus removing the much-needed cushioning in the joints where bone meets bone. This causes difficulty with the most fundamental movements like grabbing the door handle, opening a jar, or even walking.

Osteoarthritis can affect the hips, lower back, hands, knees, and neck.

Up until now, this disease was incurable. There are certain physical therapies or medications that can help, or even more invasive measures like surgery, but nothing could truly cure this condition.

A Special Protein

In a recent study, researchers were able to pinpoint a particular protein in joint cartilage that is greatly affected in osteoarthritis: FoxO.

They began by studying mice with full FoxO levels versus mice made deficient of the protein. It was observed that the deficient mice began to suffer from joint degeneration at a much younger age than the control mice.

These mice also suffered cartilage damage more easily when prompted to exercise. If a knee injury occurred, the deficient mice were much more likely to develop osteoarthritis as a consequence.

What exactly does FoxO do in our bodies to protect our joints, and what does it have to do with osteoarthritis?

It turns out that this protein is important for a bodily process called autophagy. This process helps the body get rid of both unwanted and damaged components of cells to help keep them functional and healthy. FoxO was also shown to protect cells from damaging free radicals.

Not only that, but FoxO helps the body produce lubricin, a protein that specifically protects joint cartilage.

All of these factors contribute towards osteoarthritis.

Increasing FoxO May Be the Cure

These researchers hypothesize that by designing a drug to help boost the expression of FoxO in our cells, joint cartilage can be protected and repaired. This could be a way to both prevent and effectively treat osteoarthritis.

While this is still to be tested, it could be the answer we needed in helping these 30 million Americans with osteoarthritis. In the years to come, this condition may just be a thing of the past.

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