The has announced a $1 million grant for research to validate the use of new magnetic resonance imaging techniques aimed at identifying and preventing or slowing the progress of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.
The grant will support a research team working to demonstrate the feasibility of using MRIs to monitor joint health after anterior cruciate ligament tears, a major risk factor for developing OA. The team, which includes researchers from the in New York City, the in Rochester, Minnesota, and the , will test the ability of new techniques to measure the molecular changes that occur immediately after an ACL tear. To that end, investigators will evaluate healthy young individuals who have torn their ACL, assessing them at several points during the first year after the injury with traditional MRI and newer MRI techniques.
The study could lead to new clinical trials and the discovery of tools and treatments to detect and reverse OA before symptoms ever appear. Each year, an estimated two hundred thousand people in the United States tear an ACL, which often leads to a diagnosis of OA within twenty years. To date, there are no medications to slow or stop the disease and no tools to identify its early stages.
"ACL injury is an ideal model to study early events in OA," said Dr. John Hardin, director of osteoarthritis research at the Arthritis Foundation. "An ACL tear immediately triggers the OA disease process at a molecular and cellular level and it continues for one or more years. If we can detect and measure these early changes, we could likely discover treatments to prevent or slow down the disease in the general population."