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Osteoarthritis Progression: Better Measurement=Better Treatment

Nanopore Sensor Technology Permits Highly Accurate, Minimally Invasive Biomarker Assessment

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center report that a new technology improves the measurement of a known biomarker for osteoarthritis and other inflammatory diseases. In a preclinical study, the team engaged a solid-state nanopore sensor to assess the presence of hyaluronic acid (HA), a naturally-occurring molecule involved in joint lubrication, inflammation, and tissue hydration. It is known that the distribution of HA in biological fluids is an indicator of inflammation, and lead author Adam Hall, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said of his team’s work, “Our results established a new, quantitative method for the assessment of a significant molecular biomarker that bridges a gap in the conventional technology. The sensitivity, speed, and small sample requirements of this approach make it attractive as the basis for a powerful analytic tool with distinct advantages over current assessment technologies.” The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Existing approaches to measuring HA abundance and distribution have a variety of shortcomings, according to the authors. Gel electrophoresis is slow, messy, semiquantitative, and requires a lot of testing material. Mass spectrometry and size-exclusion chromatography are limited in range and expensive. Multi-angle light scattering offers limited precision and is nonquantitative. The newly developed technology uses a microchip with a pore of a few nanometers width—about 5000 times finer than a human hair—the enables the detection of single HA molecules. In trials on the synovial fluid from horse models, the approach enabled precise determination of HA size distribution changes over time. The procedure is minimally invasive, and requires only a minute amount of fluid. Future work will focus on trials of the technology in humans, according to Dr. Hall and colleagues.

Read a news story about the findings.

The journal article may be read here.

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