Biomarker Predicts Patients at Greater Risk of Worsening Knee Osteoarthritis

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“Our primary motivation was to help develop treatments for people with osteoarthritis that would slow or prevent the disease and be more than painkillers- actually affect the disease process itself,” Virginia Kraus, MD, explains.

In an interview with HCPLive, Virginia Byers Kraus, MD, PhD, professor in the departments of Medicine, Pathology, and Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study, “A “best-in-class” systemic biomarker predictor of clinically relevant knee osteoarthritis structural and pain progression,” discusses the multi-biomarker blood tests that could be used to predict which individuals are at a greater risk of worsening knee osteoarthritis.

“Our primary motivation was to help develop treatments for people with osteoarthritis that would slow or prevent the disease and be more than painkillers- actually affect the disease process itself,” Kraus explains.

Through a blood test that used multiple biomarkers, investigators were able to predict, with 74% accuracy, which patients at baseline were more likely to progress within the next 2 to 4 years. However, while some of the proteins were able to positively predict those at higher risk, other proteins indicated lower risk. For example, parts of the vitamin D binding protein both predicted progression and non-progression.

“The immediate application and significance is that we could partner with companies doing trials to identify the people that are most appropriate for the trials so that we could reduce the costs and the time it takes to do the trials,” Kraus emphasized. “We could get to a treatment that's really effective faster and at a much lower cost. Therefore, it would be more likely that more companies would test things and that we would get to a positive result… Having a biomarker in your drug development program increases the chance that you're going to be successful.”

Kraus emphasizes that patients with osteoarthritis should continue to be optimistic regarding possible breakthroughs in treatment. “We've seen recent breakthroughs with Alzheimer's disease, another chronic disabling condition, so I take that all with great enthusiasm and optimism that osteoarthritis will soon follow.”

The study was published in Science Advances.

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