Using new state-of-the-art imaging techniques to identify signs of osteoarthritis (OA), UniSA scientists are learning more about changes at the molecular level which indicate the severity of cartilage damage.
A study led by PhD student Olivia Lee and her supervisor Associate Professor Paul Anderson using mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has mapped complex sugars on OA cartilage, showing different sugars are associated with damaged tissue compared to healthy tissue.
The finding will potentially help overcome one of the main challenges of osteoarthritis research — identifying why cartilage degrades at different rates in the body.
“Despite its prevalence in the community, there is a lot about osteoarthritis that we don’t understand,” Prof Anderson says.
“It is one of the most common degenerative joint diseases, yet there are limited diagnostic tools, few treatment options and no cure.”
Existing OA biomarkers are still largely focused on bodily fluids which are neither reliable nor sensitive