New research on mice published this month in Arthritis & Rheumatology reports that a fluorescent probe may facilitate earlier diagnosis and monitoring of osteoarthritis, a joint disease that presently is often detected only late in development, after the onset of pain. If proven effective for humans, the procedure may permit better management of the condition and result in more favorable patient outcomes. The new approach could also help analyze the effectiveness of osteoarthritis drugs, leading to improved treatments.
This lab and mouse study, led by researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, is the first to demonstrate that near-infrared fluorescence – a specific type of light invisible to the human eye but possible to see with optical imaging – can be used to detect osteoarthritis changes over time. The authors report that the fluorescent probe permitted detection of activities leading to cartilage breakdown in the knees of study animals, a necessary step for early monitoring and management of the disease. Read a news story about the study findings here.