A team of scientists from Duke University Medical Center will conduct three interrelated studies of biomechanical factors that influence cartilage breakdown and inflammation in osteoarthritis. The work, which will involve such disciplines as orthopaedic surgery, immunology and biomedical engineering, will be led by Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., with funding from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

The multidisciplinary approach promotes the exchange of expertise and research findings, and promises a more rapid translation of basic science to clinical therapies and screening and diagnostic techniques. One project will involve laboratory experiments to examine the roles of biomechanical factors on cells and tissue within joints affected by osteoarthritis. A second study will examine the effects of biomechanical factors in a mouse model of osteoarthritis. A third component will seek to develop more effective exercise and weight loss therapies to reduce pain and disability for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis in adults, and is characterized by cartilage breakdown in the affected joints. It occurs mostly in the knees, hips, hands, neck and the lower back, and may result from joint injury or repeated stress to joints. Risk factors include advanced age, obesity, joint injury, occupations that require frequent bending and carrying, and poor physical conditioning.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most frequent causes of physical disability in the United States. Treatment options may include exercise, weight control, rest and joint care, anti-inflammatory medication, alternative therapies and surgery.

The NIAMS is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health, the leading Federal agency in biomedical and behavioral research.

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