Investigating the processes involved in cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis

Disease - Osteoarthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Kazuhiro Yamamoto

Organisation - University of Liverpool

Type of grant - Career Development Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £413,430

Start date - 3 June 2017

Reference - 21447

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

LRP1 is known as a gatekeeper protein that controls the molecules taken up by cartilage cells. This process is vital for maintaining healthy cartilage. It is known that in osteoarthritic cartilage, the function of the LRP1 protein is impaired. Therefore, the researchers aim to investigate how this process is involved in osteoarthritis development by looking at which molecules are involved in this process, what these molecules do, and when and how impairment of LRP1 takes place.

Why is this research important?

Cartilage breakdown is a key event in osteoarthritis, and contributes to the severity of symptoms. Current treatment options are mainly limited to pain relief drugs, which don’t work well for all people with osteoarthritis and often result in a number of side effects. Therefore, it is clear we need to develop treatments that can prevent cartilage breakdown as well as reduce symptoms.

One potential target is the protein LRP1, whose function is slowly disrupted during osteoarthritis and whose restoration protects osteoarthritic cartilage from further damage. The researchers will use cartilage cells from people with osteoarthritis to see how and when the impairment of LRP1 occurs, and identify what effect this has on the joint.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Currently, there are no drugs available that slow down cartilage damage. This research will address this issue and see whether treatments targeting LRP1 would be an effective treatment option for osteoarthritis. It will also provide a better understanding of the events that cause osteoarthritis development and progression, which in the future could be targeted by other new treatment options.