(MayoClinic.com) As you cope with osteoarthritis, researchers are working to better understand what causes osteoarthritis and how to slow or stop associated joint damage. There's still no cure. But new drugs are being developed.
While current medications can relieve your pain and improve your joint mobility, they can't stop osteoarthritis from progressing and further damaging your joints. Researchers hope they can change that. Experiments and investigations into new drugs that could slow, stop or even reverse joint damage are under way. Areas of investigation include:
Antibiotics are traditionally used to fight infections. It's now known that certain antibiotics can also decrease inflammation inside your affected joints. Antibiotics also block the proteins that play a role in the breakdown of the cartilage in your joints. Early studies of the antibiotic doxycycline have shown promise in osteoarthritis treatment, though more research is needed.
Drugs that interfere with inflammatory signals
Proteins called cytokines send signals to cells to cause inflammation in your joints. The inflammation plays a role in joint damage. By blocking or stopping these cytokines, researchers hope they can slow or stop joint damage. Osteoarthritis isn't typically thought of as an inflammatory disease, but researchers have found that people with osteoarthritis have higher levels of inflammatory cells in their joints than are found in the joints of people who don't have osteoarthritis.
Treatments aimed at an inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-1 (IL-1) include:
Researchers hope that targeting certain genes in your body might influence cells in your joints to reduce inflammation and joint damage. One way to do this might be to block the action of damaging genes. Another way might be to replace the damaging genes with genes that would reverse joint damage. One roadblock to gene therapy is finding a way to deliver the genes to the body. Study of gene therapy for osteoarthritis is still in the very early stages, though some animal research has shown promise.
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