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:
- Krystal’s dystrophic EB gene therapy trial meets primary goal
Krystal Biotech has reported that the GEM-3 clinical trial of its experimental gene therapy, beremagene geperpavec (B-VEC), for treating dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (dystrophic EB) met the ...
- Cell and Gene Therapy Sector Needs CMC Clarity
For therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibody- (mAb) based medicines, CMC requirements are well established. And more importantly developers know what reviewers look for and, to a greater or lesser ...
- Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Services Market Size, Share, Impressive Industry Growth, Report 2027
The global cell and gene therapy manufacturing services market is anticipated to grow significantly at a CAGR of nearly 11 5 over the forecast period 2021 2027 The key companies operating in the ...
- Gene therapy for hemophilia A
In a phase 1/2 trial, an investigational gene therapy brought about sustained expression of clotting factor VII and a dramatic reduction in the bleeding rate.
- Krystal Biotech Touts Positive Results for Gene Therapy Treating Tissue Disease
The company plans to use the trial results to support an FDA biologics license application submission during the first half of next year.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Gene therapy for osteoarthritis and obesity
- Role of immune system in joint disease in horses highlighted in review
They said although there is a strong correlation between obesity ... employed against osteoarthritis in equine practice, including the use of mesenchymal stromal cells, gene therapy and ...
- Osteoarthritis News
Knee, Hip Steroid Injections May Speed Joint Damage With evidence that steroid injections may speed joint destruction in some patients with osteoarthritis ... to Less MACE in Obesity, Diabetes ...
- Guidance, NICE advice and quality standards In development
Interventional procedures guidance TBC High tibial osteotomy with adjustable magnetic nail insertion for symptomatic medial knee osteoarthritis Interventional procedures guidance TBC Constipation ...
- Specific cell population plays a key role in the effect arthritis has on the body and the pain patients feel
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have led a study which has identified a new specific population of cells that plays a key role in the effect arthritis has on the body and the subsequent ...
- Biofit Reviews: How Bacteria Can Help You Loose Weight Fast
According to the creator of this supplement, studies have proven that biofit also has gene modification functions ... Losing weight is not the only way to fight obesity. Preventing unwanted ...