In an effort to pinpoint strategies that may assist in the identification of the early stages in osteoarthritis (OA), three institutions have received a grant from the Arthritis Foundation, intended to validate the use of new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and newly identified biomarkers to accomplish this effort. The three institutions that have received the $1 million grant include the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Using x-rays to measure joint space narrowing is the “gold standard” for assessing the presence and progressing of OA, according to Scott Rodeo, MD, orthopedic surgeon, co-chief of sports medicine and shoulder service at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), co-principal of the tripartite grant. However, he adds, they are “next to worthless for detecting early stages of arthritis. This study will help us understand the early factors that lead to the degenerative changes in in ACL-injured knees.”
A news release from HSS reports that the grant from the Arthritis Foundation will be distributed during the course of 1 year. The three grant recipients have also made an institutional commitment to offer annual patient follow-up after that time period. A total of 25 patients who are at a maximum of 14 days out from tearing their ACL will be recruited at each institution. Researchers note that the patients will be evaluated at baseline, 6 weeks, 6 months, 12 months, and yearly thereafter with traditional and newer MRI techniques.
The new quantitative MRI techniques developed by HSS and UCSF researchers are designed to measure T1ρ and T2 values of articular cartilage and meniscus. During the collection of MRI data, researchers will also collect samples of synovial fluid, blood, and urine from patients and evaluate knee function using surveys such as the Knee Outcome Survey, international knee documentation committee (IKDC) evaluation forms, and Marx Activity Level.
The release states that many study participants will undergo ACL reconstruction. Surgeons will reportedly evaluate the patients anthroscopically at the time of operation. Clinicians will also correlate fluid biomarkers and quantitative MRI results with traditional imaging, clinical, and functional outcomes.
Rodeo emphasizes that the study’s ultimate goal “is to identify biomarkers that reflect alterations in the joint environment that may be predictive of developing arthritis.”
The release states that once these biomarkers have been identified, researchers can then test therapies designed to slow or prevent the disease.