Arthritis National Research Foundation Grant Recipients Discover Body’s Own Molecular Protection Against Arthritis.
An international team of scientists, led by ANRF grant recipients Dr. Hiroshi Ashara (2000-2001) and Dr. Shigeru Miyaki (2009-2011), from The Scripps Research Institute in California in conjunction with the National Research Institute for Child Health and Development in Japan, has discovered that a natural molecule in the body counters the progression of osteoarthritis. The findings are exciting and could one day lead to new therapies for individuals suffering with osteoarthritis. The research team focused on the molecule, microRNA 140. The molecule is part of a recently discovered category of genetic molecules called — “microRNAs” or “non-coding RNAs” which often play a vital role in gene expression.
Osteoarthritis currently affects an estimated 20 million Americans and is the most common joint disorder. As our population ages, this number is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next two decades. Current treatments for osteoarthritis focus on reducing pain and inflammation. This discovery is the first breakthrough in stopping and fighting the progression of osteoarthritis.
“This is the first report showing the critical role of a specific non-coding RNA in bone development,” said Hiroshi Asahara, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of molecular and experimental medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. “Moreover, surprisingly, we observed that microRNA 140 acts against arthritis progression. This is among the first evidence that non-coding RNA plays a key role in age-dependent diseases.”
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease in which joint cartilage breaks down due to wear and tear on joints as we age or as a result of injury. Dr. Miyaki says, “This finding may lead to a new therapeutic strategy for osteoarthritis, as well as for conditions that share similar mechanisms, such as spinal disc degeneration.” This new breakthrough opens the door to find new methods to not only treat and stop osteoarthritis, but also reverse its effects all together. And, because the molecule occurs naturally in the body ill side effects would be minimal. New treatments and therapies may be able to correct our body’s natural tendency to break down as we age and allow for a better quality of life.
Source The Scripps Research Institute Press Release