Saturday, January 5, 2013

Factors in Solving Medical Problems

Proteins linked to osteoarthritis pain

Postmedia News January 5, 2013

Even though pain is one of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis, its cause was a bit of a mystery - until now.
Scientists at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern University have discovered that a family of proteins is critical to how pain develops in OA.
"Clinically, scientists have focused on trying to understand how cartilage and joints degenerate in osteoarthritis. But no one knows why it hurts," said Dr. Anne-Marie Malfait, associate professor of biochemistry and of internal medicine at Rush, who led the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a mouse model study, researchers analyzed the development of pain and accompanying changes in the dorsal root ganglia, which contain nerves carrying signals from sensory organs to the brain.
They found that a chemokine called monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, or MCP-1, and its receptor chemokine receptor 2, or CCR2, were linked to the development of OA pain.
Chemokines are a family of small proteins that regulate inflammation and move white blood cells to infected or damaged tissue. Previous research had found that MCP-1/CCR2 play a key role in the pain that occurs after a nerve injury.
About 4.4 million Canadians live with osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. The condition develops when cartilage that protects bones wears away, causing symptoms such as stiffness, swelling, joint damage - and pain.
The Arthritis Alliance of Canada estimates that arthritis costs the Canadian economy about $27.5 billion in direct and indirect health care costs annually.

My opinion:
I think it's incredible how medical researchers are able to pinpoint these underlying causes so often!  There are so many different proteins in the body, how can they possibly know which ones are at hand?  But I guess this is also why research takes so long and is painstakingly difficult.  What medical researchers need for the future is a better classification of proteins, genes, and the like - this might aid them in determining the hidden aspects of diseases.

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