Could Single Jab End a Lifetime of Arthritic Wear and Tear?

Is a Contraceptive Injection the Right Choice for YouThanks to a potent new gene therapy technique, scientists are claiming that you can end your misery of arthritis pain and protect your joints from life-long wear and tear, using only a single injection. According to wellness experts, this is a ground-breaking treatment which could improve the wellbeing of millions of Britons, who are crippled by the debilitating disease.

The therapy is a major breakthrough because it not only stops the destruction of your joint, but it also appears to protect it against damage. Current treatments can only relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but this new wonder-jab can be given to people at risk of developing the disease years in advance of it striking. Expensive joint replacement operations, which cost the NHS £1billion a year, are the only cure for arthritis at present.

Arthritis affects 10 million people in Britain, with osteoarthritis accounting for at least 8.5million cases. This subset of the disease causes your bones to rub against each other as your cartilage breaks down, which triggers pain in your hands, spine, knees and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, occurs when your immune system attacks the joints, and is more severe but less common, affecting almost 700,000 people.

Now, a new study has found a protein which acts as a lubricant between the bones in your joint, protecting against osteoarthritis and blocking the loss of cartilage. One injection of the gene that makes this protein has been shown to prevent knees from developing age- and injury-related osteoarthritis, and could relieve pain and other symptoms of arthritis. Whilst it’s not currently possible for gene therapy to regenerate cartilage that you have already lost, the researchers claim that one day it could prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. They found that, in mice, a naturally-occurring protein called lubricin – or Proteoglycans 4 – protected against osteoarthritis. Dr Brendan Lee, professor of molecular and human genetics, commented, ‘The lubricin protein was expressed for the life of the mouse after a single injection into the joint.’

According to Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, ‘There are some indications that gene therapies could lead to new treatments for the millions of people living with the pain caused by osteoarthritis. Further research is now needed to see if these findings in mice could be translated into an effective treatment for humans.’

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