Researchers Develop Synthetic Lubricant for Knee Joints

For the recovery and improvement of the quality of life of patients with osteoarthritis (arthrosis) — it is one of the most common forms of arthritis — Chinese scientists have developed a lubricant for the region located between the bones of the knee or other regions of the body. Still in pre-clinical testing, the substance mimics a natural version of the fluid found at the site, called synovial fluid, and should allow damaged joints to repair themselves. The product has already been successfully evaluated in rodents.

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    It is worth explaining that osteoarthritis is the result of wear on the joints and that it tends to increase as people get old. The condition is directly associated with damage to the tissue that covers the ends of bones, the cartilage. As a result, it is as if the bones rub against each other.

    Research develops fluid to be applied to the joints of those who have arthrosis (Image: Reproduction/Prostock-studio/Envato Elements)

    Today, there are some techniques available to improve the condition, including therapies that involve the application of stem cells. However, researcher Chuanbin Mao, one of the authors of the study published in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, explains that these methods are not as efficient for solving the problem as they should be.

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    How does the lubricating potential work?

    To search for an ideal material, the researchers concentrated in the synovial fluid. It is transparent and viscous and is inside the joint cavities. In its composition, there is a molecule called lubrication complex, composed of a hyaluronic acid structure that contains some subunits, such as lubricin and others that are lipidic.

    In theory, the lubricant potential carries this natural molecule, made synthetically. According to the study authors, when applied to pieces of human cartilage, this substance reduced friction, at least in laboratory tests.

    In addition, the scientists injected the substance into rats with arthritis early in the leg joints. After eight weeks, the joints of the rodents appeared almost normal from the disease classification parameters. In fact, the cartilage seemed to have grown again, points out Mao. “We found that lubrication can help tissue regeneration — this is something new,” added the scientist.

    Now, the research team will test the artificial lubricant on larger animals with more similar joints to human ones. If efficacy continues to be demonstrated, it is likely that studies with the therapy will be initiated directly in humans.

    To access the full article on joint fluid, published in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, click here.

    Source: New Scientist

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