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Synthetic joint lubricant promises osteoarthritis

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A new type of treatment for osteoarthritis, currently in clinical trials with dogs, is promising for later use in humans.

The treatment developed by Cornell University's biomedical engineers is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring synovial fluid that binds to the surface of the cartilage in joints and acts as a cushion for activities involving high impact, such as running.

"When the production of this particular lubricant drops, there is a higher contact between the articular surfaces and, over time, osteoarthritis," said David Putnam, a professor at the College of Engineering with jobs at the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and the Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The study focuses on a naturally occurring synovial lubricant known as lubricant, whose production decreases after traumatic joint injuries such as a ligament tear in the knee. [1

9659005] The knee is lubricated in two ways – hydrodynamic mode and limit mode.

Lubrication in hydrodynamic mode occurs when the joint moves quickly and there is no force g force presses on it. In this mode, joints are lubricated by compounds such as hyaluronic acid (HA), which are thick and sticky, such as car oil. There are many HA products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of lubrication disorders in hydrodynamic mode.

However, HA is ineffective when strong forces act on the joint, such as those occurring during running or jumping. In these cases, thick sticky HA will squirt out between the cartilage surfaces and limit mode lubrication will be required. Under these forces, the lubricant binds to the surface of the cartilage. It contains sugars that hold on to the water and absorb hard forces on the knee.

In the paper, the researchers describe a synthetic polymer that mimics the function of lubricants and that is much easier to manufacture. "We are in clinical trials with dogs at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine that suffer from osteoarthritis," Putnam said.

"Once we have completed the efficacy study on dogs, we will have a very good market position in the material for the veterinary treatment of osteoarthritis," Putnam said. From there, the human market should follow for a lubricant substitute, just as HA was made available for human use, mainly in the knees.

New device highlights mechanism and effectiveness of arthritis treatment

Further information:
Zhexun Sun et al., Boundary Lubricating Articular Cartilage Using a Biomimetic Diblock Copolymer, National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.1900716116

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Cornell University

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Synthetic Joint Lubricant Promises Osteoarthritis (2019, June 19)
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