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Molecule Discovery Offers Hope for Arthritis Sufferers

The molecule, called kartogenin, was tested on mice suffering from joint problems. Many of the mice treated regained their ability to use their damaged joints and appeared pain-free. In the study, published online April 5 in Science, the researchers reported how they screened 22,000 molecules, applying each one to bone marrow stem cells in laboratory dishes before coming upon kartogenin. They found it promoted the development of chondrocytes, which are cells that become cartilage.

When they injected kartogenin into the damaged knee joints of mice – similar to what is seen in osteoarthritis – it prompted cartilage regeneration, improved symptoms and lowered levels of a protein called cartilage oligomeric matrix, found in excess in people with osteoarthritis. The treatment also enabled the mice to regain weight-bearing capacity on the joint within 42 days.

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