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Blood Test Identifies Osteoarthritis Progression More Accurately than Current Methods

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Jan 2023
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Image: The biomarker discovery could aid development of osteoarthritis treatments (Photo courtesy of Duke University)
Image: The biomarker discovery could aid development of osteoarthritis treatments (Photo courtesy of Duke University)

Osteoarthritis in the knee is the most common joint disorder and a major cause of disability but currently lacks effective treatments. As a result of the absence of an effective method to identify and accurately predict the risk of osteoarthritis progression, researchers have not been able to include the right subjects in clinical trials for testing the benefits of a therapy. Now, a new blood test that can identify progression of osteoarthritis in the knee has proved to be more accurate than the current methods, providing researchers with an important tool to speed up research and discover new therapies.

The test developed by researchers at Duke University School of Medicine (Durham, NC, USA) works by detecting a biomarker that was identified after isolating more than a dozen molecules related to the progression of osteoarthritis in the blood of patients. After further honing, the team narrowed the blood test to a set of 15 markers that correspond to 13 total proteins. These markers were able to accurately predict 73% of progressors from non-progressors in 596 people diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. This prediction rate for the new blood biomarker is much better than the current approaches. For instance, the assessment of baseline structural osteoarthritis and pain severity is 59% accurate, while the current biomarker testing molecules from urine is 58% accurate. Additionally, the new, blood-based marker set also successfully identified a group of patients whose joints exhibited progression in X-ray scans, irrespective of pain symptoms.

“In addition to being more accurate, this new biomarker has an additional advantage of being a blood-based test,” said Virginia Byers Kraus, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study. “Blood is a readily accessible biospecimen, making it an important way to identify people for clinical trial enrollment and those most in need of treatment.”

“In the immediate future, this new test will help identify people with high risk of progressive disease - those likely to have both pain and worsening damage identified on X-rays - who should be enrolled in clinical trials. Then we can learn if a therapy is beneficial,” added Kraus.

Related Links:
Duke University School of Medicine 

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