Removing Old Cells Could Prevent Arthritis

An experimental drug has been shown to prevent osteoarthritis in mice by selectively removing aged cells.

AsianScientist (Jun. 14, 2017) – In a study published in Nature Medicine, researchers have confirmed that the targeted removal of senescent cells can delay the development of osteoarthritis in mice.

This research was been led by Dr. Kim Chaekyu of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is now at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and Dr. Jeon Ok Hee of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In the study, the research team describe a drug candidate that alleviates age-related degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis by selectively destroying senescent cells. Their findings suggest that the selective removal of old cells from joints could reduce the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and allow new cartilage to grow and repair joints.

With age, senescent cells accumulate many tissues and are present at sites of age-related pathlogy. Although these cells play an essential role in wound healing and injury repair, they may also promote cancer incidence in tissues. For instance, in articular joints, such as the knee and cartilage tissue, senescent cells often are not cleared from the area after injury, thereby contributing to the development of osteoarthritis.

To test the idea that senescent cells might play a causative role in osteoarthritis, the research team took both younger and older mice and cut their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) to mimic injury. They then gave the mice an experimental drug named UBX0101 to selectively remove the senescent cells.

The results suggested that the removal of senescent cells significantly reduced the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and created an environment that facilitated the growth of new cartilage and joint repair. Similar results were obtained when chondrocytes isolated from arthritic patients were used.

Prior to this study, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) granted UNITY Biotechnology Inc. the right to use the intellectual property around the senescent cell technology. UNITY is a company aiming to develop therapeutics that address age-related diseases. Last October, the company announced US$116 million in Series B funding from venture capitalists including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s venture fund Bezos Expeditions, Mayo Clinic Ventures, Venrock, and ARCH Venture Partners.

The article can be found at: Jeon et al. (2017) Local Clearance of Senescent Cells Attenuates the Development of Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis and Creates a Pro-regenerative Environment.


Source: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.
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