Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that gene therapy in mice helped build strength and significant muscle mass quickly, while reducing the severity of osteoarthritis. The gene therapy also prevented obesity, even when the mice were fed a high-fat diet.
Exercise and physical therapy often are recommended to help people who have arthritis. Both can strengthen muscle — a benefit that also can reduce joint pain. But building muscle mass and strength can take many months and be difficult in the face of joint pain from osteoarthritis, particularly for older people who are overweight.
A new study in mice at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, however, suggests gene therapy one day may help those patients.
The research shows that gene therapy helped build significant muscle mass quickly and reduced the severity of osteoarthritis in the mice, even though they didn’t exercise more. The therapy also staved off obesity, even when the mice ate an extremely high-fat diet.
The study is published online May 8 in the journal Science Advances.
“Obesity is the most common risk factor for osteoarthritis,” said senior investigator Farshid Guilak, PhD, the Mildred B. Simon Research Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of research at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis. “Being overweight can hinder a person’s ability to exercise and benefit fully from physical therapy. We’ve identified here a way to use gene therapy to build muscle quickly. It had a profound effect in the mice and kept their weight in check, suggesting a similar approach may be effective against arthritis, particularly in cases of morbid obesity.”
With the paper’s first author, Ruhang Tang, PhD, a senior scientist in Guilak’s laboratory, Guilak and his research team gave 8-week-old mice a single injection each of a virus carrying a gene called follistatin. The gene works to block the activity of a protein in muscle that keeps muscle growth in check. This enabled the mice to gain significant muscle mass without exercising more than usual.
Even without additional exercise, and while continuing to eat a high-fat diet, the muscle mass of these “super mice” more than doubled, and their strength nearly doubled, too. The mice also had less cartilage damage related to osteoarthritis, lower numbers of inflammatory cells and proteins in their joints, fewer metabolic problems, and healthier hearts and blood vessels than littermates that did not receive the gene therapy. The mice also were significantly less sensitive to pain.
One worry was that some of the muscle growth prompted by the gene therapy might turn out to be harmful. The heart, for example, is a muscle, and a condition called cardiac hypertrophy, in which the heart’s walls thicken, is not a good thing. But in these mice, heart function actually improved, as did cardiovascular health in general.
Longer-term studies will be needed to determine the safety of this type of gene therapy. But, if safe, the strategy could be particularly beneficial for patients with conditions such as muscular dystrophy that make it difficult to build new muscle.
In the meantime, Guilak, who also co-directs the Washington University Center for Regenerative Medicine and is a professor of biomedical engineering and of developmental biology, said more traditional methods of muscle strengthening, such as lifting weights or physical therapy, remain the first line of treatment for patients with osteoarthritis.
“Something like this could take years to develop, but we’re excited about its prospects for reducing joint damage related to osteoarthritis, as well as possibly being useful in extreme cases of obesity,” he said.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Gene therapy needs a long-term approachon April 15, 2021 at 2:30 pm
Gene-therapy trials are on the rise, but more needs to be done to understand the long-term risks associated with this type of treatment.
- ATMPS and Ori Biotech Collaborate on an Integrated Digital Platform for Cell and Gene Therapy Developerson April 15, 2021 at 8:15 am
ATMPSLtd, a leader in blockchain-based “vein to vein” cell orchestration platforms for advanced therapies, and Ori Biotech, an innovator in cell and gene therapy (CGT) manufacturing platforms, today ...
- Cell and Gene Therapy Market Research Report | Industry Growth Rate, Size, Share, Regional Analysis, Global Forecast to 2027on April 14, 2021 at 6:48 am
The global cell and gene therapy market is projected to reach a market size of USD 7,250.0 Million by 2028 at a rapid and steady CAGR of 16.3% over the forecast period, according to most recent ...
- Gene therapy startup StrideBio signs collaboration deal with Duke Universityon April 14, 2021 at 6:14 am
StrideBio, an emerging startup focusing on gene therapies which closed on a big $81.5 million round of venture capital in March, is partnering with Duke University as it expands efforts to create next ...
- Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy Summit 2021 features world renowned cancer researchers advancing soon April 13, 2021 at 9:00 pm
James P. Allison, PhD, Carl H. June, MD and Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD Keynote April 29 Summit on Advancing Solid Tumor Breakthroughs: Eight additional panels on developing the next generation cancer ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Gene therapy for osteoarthritis and obesity
- Jaguar Gene Therapy Closes $139 Million Series B Funding Co-led by Eli Lilly and Company and Deerfield Managementon April 13, 2021 at 5:00 am
Jaguar Gene Therapy today announced it has closed a $139 million Series B funding co-led by Eli Lilly and Company and Deerfield Management.
- Methylene blue prevents osteoarthritis progression and relieves pain in rats via upregulation of Nrf2/PRDX1on April 7, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Oxidative stress-related cartilage degeneration, synovitis, and joint pain play vital roles in the progress of osteoarthritis (OA). Anti-oxidative stress agents not only prevent structural damage ...
- How New Zealand's healthcare system is failing people with osteoarthritison March 31, 2021 at 5:55 am
In New Zealand, around one in eight adults have osteoarthritis, but it is a rapidly worsening problem. An aging population and increasing rates of obesity ... Exercise therapy is now the most ...
- Technology Insight: Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Osteoarthritis Therapyon March 30, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Steinert MD is a Senior Resident in Orthopedic Surgery and Head of the Division of Gene Therapy at the Orthopedic ... declared no competing interests. Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common joint ...
- Taking gene therapy to the masses with innovations in diabetes, Alzheimer's and moreon March 30, 2021 at 12:00 am
Type 2 diabetes, the far more prevalent form of the disease, is also a prime target for researchers working in gene therapy. Much of this work focuses on solving obesity, a major cause of Type 2 ...