Understanding how changes in molecular structure affect cartilage health and repair

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Linda Troeberg

Organisation - University of East Anglia

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £143,982.64

Start date - 1 October 2019

Reference - 22194

What are the aims of this research?

The cells in healthy cartilage are surrounded by a zone of molecules that tells them what is happening in the joint and advises them on how to respond. The work of these molecules relies on chemical groups called ‘sulfations’. Sulfation is an important process in cartilage that is disrupted in osteoarthritis. Previous research has shown that the amount of these sulfations in healthy cartilage differs to that taken from osteoarthritic cartilage. Using this knowledge, researchers plan to further investigate the role of sulfations in osteoarthritis, by comparing osteoarthritic and healthy donor tissue.

Why is this research important?

Despite the high and growing prevalence of osteoarthritis in our society, there are still no drugs that can prevent osteoarthritis from starting or to stop joint damage progressing. This work will identify a previously unknown way in which the body maintains healthy cartilage and establish how that this is disrupted in osteoarthritis. This is turn may help to find a new target for treatment that may promote cartilage repair.

How will findings benefit patients?

Previous research has shown that sulfations control activities at a molecular level in many tissues in the body, but little is known about how it influences cartilage health and osteoarthritis. Improved understanding of the molecular pathways involved in osteoarthritis may provide information which leads to development of future treatments. If developed successfully, these treatments could relieve osteoarthritis symptoms and promote cartilage repair.