New fat jab could treat osteoarthritis

Millions of people around the world are suffer from osteoarthritis. Many of them are rely on anti-inflammatory painkillers which carry the risk of damage to the stomach if used for long term. New study suggests that tiny globules of fat that are injected into painful joints could be a radical new treatment for osteoarthritis. Fat particles are injected to protect the cartilage inside the joint from further damage.

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Cartilages are the spongy material in the hips, spine, knees, shoulders & wrists that acts as the body’s shock absorbers. They stop the bones rubbing together. But at the time of injury, illness or wear & tear can cause the cartilage to start breakdown. As bones come into contact, the friction makes the joints swollen and painful. New jab is hoped to prevent the surgery requirement or at least postpone it for several years.

New fat molecules, which are manufactured in a laboratory, are soft enough to help cushion the impact from everyday activities, but strong enough not to be destroyed under the strain of a working joint. In tests the new jab was injected into the hip joints. The results showed the fat jabs reduced the rate of cartilage destruction by 40 % compared with 10 % with an existing therapy.

The new fat jabs are a form of nanotechnology in which a technique using molecules so small they can't be seen with the naked eye, yet which are capable of delivering powerful medicines or treatments deep inside the body. This stops healthy tissue being exposed to the potential side-effects. The size of the molecules also means they can't be detected by the body's defense systems so they won't be cleared away.

The molecules that are developed for osteoarthritis treatment are no more than one millionth of a millimeter in diameter & are engineered to pass into the cells within the joint, something that was not possible previously. Professor Philip Conaghan said, “A treatment that stopped cartilage breakdown was the holy grail for osteoarthritis researchers.”


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