Detecting and Treating Arthritis

Detecting and Treating Arthritis


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition
of the cartilage where the cartilage progressively breaks down. It happens over the course of years and decades
and it can happen for a lot of different reasons. Some of the common ones are if someone’s in
a bad car accident or has like a sports injury. Another one which, unfortunately, is a common
problem in the United State is if you’re overweight. The lab is rely focused on this problem of
osteoarthritis both from a stand point of disease and detection as well as treatments
and I think if we can do that I think we can really make a difference in patient care and
that’s what’s really important here. One of the difficult things for physicians
in diagnosing osteoarthritis in its early stages is that the cartilage tissue doesn’t
show up very well using conventional x-rays. They’ll see the long bones, but they won’t
see the soft tissue, i.e. the cartilage that’s on this bones and that’s very limiting. It would be great if you had a quantitative
way to assess the stage of the disease. Here’s how our technique would work: we would
inject a contrast agent and then the contrast agent would diffuse into the cartilage and
it would make the cartilage light up via CT scanning and it would also give us some information
about what spots are healthy and what spots were starting to degrade. And that would, you know, give the physician
really valuable information on treating arthritis for the patient. Unfortunately when you still progress in OA
the only real long term treatment is a joint replacement. The down side is that their lifespan is only
about 15 to 20 years. If people start coming down with osteoarthritis
at let’s say the age of 40, it’d be nice to delay their surgery need until they’re in
their fifties or sixties ideally. So one of the things that we’re working on
is a polymer solution. It could be injected in the joints so that it helps restore the
natural lubricating ability of the joint that’s compromised during arthritis. So then they’d only need one joint replacement
and then they’re be fine for the rest of the duration of their life. Arthritis is one of the things that you might
not, you know, die from it, but it really makes a difference in terms of like how happy
you are, what your quality of life is. And so for me it’s really important to make
sure that, you know, that that quality of life is there for people in their later decades
of life, and that’s really the goal of the project
here.

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