12 Jun Osteoarthritis: Specific Micro RNAs As Predictors of Disease Severity
MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Beyer: Our study aimed to identify specific micro RNAs as preditors for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive and long-standing disease. It’s early and very early stages are clinically silent, which means that patients do not experience symptoms or present with obvious signs of the disease. Preventive measures and early therapies, however, would be probably most effective in treating this very common condition. Thus, markers to identify individuals at risk for osteoarthritis or in early clinical stages are highly important, but are not available for clinical routine yet. Micro RNAs are group of molecules that have signaling functions in the human body and that can reflect states of disease and health. Since they are very stable and easily accessible in the peripheral blood (by venous puncture without complicated procedures like biopsies), the represent promising biomarkers in many different fields of medicine. In this context, we wondered if specific micro RNAs might predict the development of severe osteoarthritis. Indeed, we could identify thre micro RNAs, named mir-454, mir-885-5p and let-7e, out of a total of 377 micro RNAs, that help to predict the risk for developing severe osteoarthritis.
MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Beyer: We were extremely happy to observe that there are indeed micro RNAs that predict the development of osteoarthritis, even early before the onset of symptoms or earliest changes in X-rays or other imaging techniques.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Beyer: At the moment, it’s still a little to early to directly implicate our findings into the clinics and guide medical decisions. We wish to better understand the biology of those three micro RNAs and need to confirm and validate our data in additional cohorts. In the meanwhile, the technology of detecting those micro RNAs is evolving rapidly. These steps being successfully taken, those micro RNAs may be useful markers to help doctors to identify patients at risk for developing osteoarthritis and help both patients and doctors to initiate preventive measures and early therapies.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Beyer: The most critical step is to bring those discoveries into validation in other studies. Although often costly, unpopular (discovery has been made) and lengthy, the results require sound validation prior to their implications in the daily clinical practice.