Swansea Scientists Discover How to Heal Osteoarthritis

Swansea University scientists Dr Ilyas Khan and Dr Lewis Francis are at the forefront of worldwide research in trying to understand how to heal osteoarthritic joints.

Work by both lecturers from the University’s Centre of Nanohealth, sponsored by Arthritis Research UK has shown the progress of disease, which is the number one cause of physical disability in the world, can potentially be stopped, and even reversed.

When cartilage in our knees or hips is osteoarthritic, it is softer making it unable to carry the same load, and this leads to progressive loss of cartilage.

According to the research the condition can be reversed by using a specific combination of growth factors that cause the cartilage to become stiffer as well as grow back.

The increased participation in sports particularly of the extreme variety means more younger patients are appearing in the waiting rooms of orthopedic surgeons.

The aim of their research is to repair and regenerate damaged joints of younger patients so that they do not require joint replacement surgery until later in life, if indeed at all.

Due to such promising results, the scientists have received further funding by Orthopedic Research UK to continue their work and trial the procedure by using human cartilage.

Dr Ilyas Khan, Lecturer in Regenerative Medicine at the University’s Centre of Nanohealth said: ‘‘We were amazed at how powerful our approach has been in making cartilage stiffer, not only that, but, it also helps regenerate osteoarthritic cartilage. These highly exciting findings are relevant to everybody, as many of us will unfortunately suffer from some form of joint disease later on in life. We would like to thank both Arthritis Research UK and Orthopedic Research UK for their support, which will hopefully enable us to work towards finding a cure for the disease in the near future. I’m really proud that the work was conducted in Swansea University and my hope is that the people here will be the first to benefit from any treatments that are formulated from our research.’’

Their work has recently been published by international journal, Biomaterials. To read the more about the research paper visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.09.076