After an injured joint is healed and you’ve recovered, there still is future risk to be faced: Namely, that you will develop osteoarthritis in the joint. Past injury is a known risk factor for future arthritis.
A new breakthrough finding may provide hope to interrupt this process, halting joint degeneration and perhaps even reversing it.
The goal is to eliminate senescent cells
Senescent (old) cells tend to accumulate in our body as we age, especially at the site of injuries. They trigger immune cells to the injury site to help heal tissue. But these senescent cells tend to overstay their welcome, signaling cells to the site long after the injury has healed. This process can contribute to the breaking down of tissue, especially cartilage.
A new study aimed to see what would happen if a substance known as UBX0101 is injected into a joint to “clear out” the senescent cells. The injections were done on both young and old mice with injuries and also in cultured tissue taken from humans with advanced knee osteoarthritis.1
In every case, the injection helped eliminate the senescent cells present, which brought a halt to the degeneration process in the joint. Not only that, but in the case of the young mice and the human tissue, markers of cartilage regeneration were observed.
More research is needed
The ability to reverse osteoarthritis with an injection may seem miraculous, but this finding has a long way to go before it can be an approved treatment for those with osteoarthritis. Long-term human trials will be essential to confirming its validity.
However, for now it’s a promising discovery that could offer great hope for future patients.
- Jeon OH - Nat Med (2017) Local clearance of senescent cells attenuates the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and creates a pro-regenerative environment.pdf