Novel treatment targets in early-stage OA

Concept

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease and a major cause of musculo-skeletal pain in the middle-aged and elderly. However, there  is currently no disease modifying treatment for OA.

Our research focuses on meniscal breakdown, one of the most common causes of OA. Our work shows that meniscus tears are most often part of a slowly developing degenerative disease, not usually the outcome of acute knee injury as previously considered. We further found that these early meniscus tears are strongly linked with the development of knee OA in the future. Detection and prevention of meniscal breakdown could therefore be a promising new target for early diagnosis and treatment of OA.

Facts and figures

Project lead
M Englund
Lund University
martin.englund@med.lu.se
FOREUM research grant: € 600.000
2018 - 2021

Meet the team

M Englund
Lund University
P Önnerfjord
Lund University
V Hughes
Lund University
A Turkiewicz
Lund University
E Folkesson
Lund University
N Ali
Lund University
E Olsson
Lund University
J Svensson
Lund University
M Nieminen
University of Oulu
S Saarakkala
University of Oulu
I Kestilä
University of Oulu
E Oei
Erasmus MC Rotterdam

Objectives

We will characterize the early molecular and structural changes associated with meniscal breakdown and knee OA. By studying the meniscus from patients with torn menisci (see results figure) using mass spectrometry, we will identify protein changes that accompany meniscus breakdown. We will further follow-up on a subset of these patients at risk for future OA, using ultra high-resolution 7-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique will enable us to visualize the earliest structural features associated with OA disease progression.

Combining our results from these two methods, we aim to pinpoint the molecular changes in the meniscus that are associated with development of OA. This will help us identify new biomarkers for early diagnosis of OA, as well as discover new targets for pharmaceutical intervention against meniscal breakdown and OA disease.

 

Patient voice

We have two patient research partners, who have visited Lund to meet our team and discuss our project. We have received their positive feedback on our initial work, and will continue working with them as our studies continue.

Publications

  • Ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging parameter mapping in the posterior horn of ex vivo human menisci. Olsson E, Folkesson E, Peterson P, Önnerfjord P, Tjörnstrand J, Hughes HV, Englund M*, Svensson J*. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2019 Mar;27(3):476-483. *shared senior authors
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  • Differential protein expression in human knee articular cartilage and medial meniscus using two different proteomic methods: a pilot analysis. Folkesson E, Turkiewicz A, Englund M, Önnerfjord P. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2018 Nov 29;19(1):416. * shared senior authors
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Abstracts EULAR 2019

  • THU0415: Exploratory protein profiling of human synovial fluid from knee osteoarthritis
  • FRI0509: 3D microstructure of intact and osteoarthritic human meniscus using micro-computed tomography