A new blood test that can identify progression of osteoarthritis in the knee is more accurate than current methods, providing an important tool to advance research and speed discovery of new therapies.
The test relies on a biomarker and fills an important void in medical research for a common disease that currently lacks effective treatments. Without a good way to identify and accurately predict the risk of osteoarthritis progression, researchers have been largely unable to include the right patients into clinical trials to test whether a therapy is beneficial.
“Therapies are lacking, but it’s difficult to develop and test new therapies because we don’t have a good way to determine the right patients for the therapy,” said Virginia Byers Kraus, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the departments of Medicine, Pathology and Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine and senior author of a study appearing online Jan. 25 in the journal Science Advances.
“It’s a chicken-and-the-egg predicament,” Kraus said. “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.”