Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TARGETMENISCUS (Targeting Meniscus Degradation in Osteoarthritis)
Reporting period: 2020-02-01 to 2021-07-31
Today, the diagnosis of OA primarily relies on the presence of symptoms combined with the detection of degenerative changes in the joint visible on x-rays. However, by the time OA is visible in joint x-rays, the disease is at a late stage, when it is difficult to halt its progression. Traditionally the focus in research has been on the hyaline cartilage. However, the focus of this project is on an another feature of knee OA - the degeneration of the knee meniscus, which may come early. The meniscus is a key load-distributing tissue in the knee, whose degeneration is one of the most potent risk factors for future OA.
Here, we aim to understand the molecular and structural degeneration of the meniscus during OA in order to discover meniscus-specific biomarkers for early-diagnosis of OA, as well as to identify potential molecular targets for future disease-modifying treatments for OA.
Towards tracking structural changes in the meniscus during OA, we have conducted computed tomography-based structural imaging of healthy and OA meniscal samples. Furthermore, we are in the process of imaging the knees of volunteers and patients at risk for OA, using advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to follow the earliest structural progression of OA in vivo. This approach allows us to discern early changes in tissue composition during OA development, even before explicit structural changes become visible.