Press release

New blood test for early detection of osteoarthritis

A link found between osteoarthritis and glucose based damage to proteins in blood


Some of the greatest concerns when development of arthritis is suspected are: Do I have arthritis? Which type is it? Will it get worse? And is my treatment working?

The answer to all of these questions has become easier through the discovery of increase of a protein crosslink marker in blood during development of arthritis from the earliest stages. The protein crosslink is called “Glucosepane”

In studies led by Dr Naila Rabbani of Warwick Medical School, and Professor Yves Henrotin, Director, Bone and Cartilage Research Unit, University of Liège,Liege, Belgium, and colleagues at the University of Birmingham and University of East Anglia, the researchers discovered the increased release of glucosepane into the blood as osteoarthritis developed. In guinea pigs susceptible to developing osteoarthritis with many similarities to that of osteoarthritis in people, they found a close link between level of glucosepane in the blood and severity of symptoms and damage within the arthritic joint.

These findings transferred well to patients where in blood samples glucosepane increased 38% in early-stage osteoarthritis at diagnosis and 600% in severe osteoarthritis, providing the basis for a very sensitive blood-based test for diagnosis and symptom severity.

Glucosepane is a protein crosslink formed from glucose. It accumulates in the long-lived proteins of the joint with age. When arthritis develops there is increased destruction of joint proteins and “free” glucosepane is released into blood. When combined with measurement of other protein crosslinks and damaged amino acids released into blood using artificial intelligence or AI approaches, blood measurements can diagnose arthritis, identify the type of arthritis, the severity of symptoms and potentially response to treatment.

The test could be available to patients within two years. By diagnosing which type of arthritis a patient will develop at an early-stage will allow for appropriate treatment that will provide the best chance for effective treatment and potential prevention. Glucosepane is a key indicator and development of a simple antibody-based clinical test to measure glucosepane is now likely.

Commenting on the discovery Dr Rabbani said:

Removal of glucosepane from joint proteins and release into blood is part of protein changes occurring very early in arthritis development. So by monitoring these we get a report of very early joint impairment

This is a big step forward with all collaborating team member playing a crucial role.

This study solves some of the key concerns that arthritis patients have and also facilitates the development of improved patient treatment and care

Commenting on the discovery Professor Y Henrotin said:

Today, osteoarthritis diagnosis is based on patient history, clinical examination and X-ray signs. This diagnosis is too late and occurs when irreversible lesions of the joint are present. We need blood-based markers to diagnose osteoarthritis in the early stages, before the appearance of these irreparable damage

Today, we lack blood based markers indicating the relative importance of drivers for osteoarthritis development – for example, processes linked to ageing, trauma or abnormal metabolism. Glucosepane could be one such marker that provides for the screening and monitoring patients with osteoarthritis

Artialis Groups SA, a Belgium Biotech www.artialis.com is interested in commercialization of this test.

For further details, contact

Dr Naila Rabbani, University of Warwick
07880850730 or n.rabbani@warwick.ac.uk

Prof. Yves Henrotin, University of Liège Belgium
yves.henrotin@artialis.com

Notes to Editors

Tite: Glycation marker glucosepane increases with the progression of osteoarthritis and correlates with morphological and functional changes of cartilage in vivo,

Published in: Arthritis Research and Therapy.

Authors

  • Catherine Legrand, Bone and Cartilage Research Unit, University of Liège, Belgium
  • Usman Ahmed,,Warwick Systems Biology centre, and Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK
  • Attia Anwar, Warwick Systems Biology centre, and Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK
  • Kashif Rajpoot, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.
  • Sabah Pasha, Warwick Systems Biology centre, and Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK
  • Cécile Lambert, Bone and Cartilage Research Unit, University of Liège, Belgium,
  • Rose K. Davidson, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
  • Ian M. Clark, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • Paul J. Thornalley, Warwick Systems Biology centre, and Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK
  • Yves Henrotin, Bone and Cartilage Research Unit, University of Liège, Belgium and Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Princess Paola Hospital, Vivalia, Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium
  • Naila Rabbani, Warwick Systems Biology centre, and Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Clinical Sciences Research Laboratories, University Hospital, Coventry; Research Technology Platform–Proteomics, University of Warwick; AGEomics and Systems Biology Research Group, University of Warwick, University Hospital, Coventry

This work received the funding from a legacy gift from Val Smith, a University of Warwick alumna and Benefactor who sadly passed away in 2015 who had met with Dr Rabbani to discuss her research into biomarkers for arthritis.

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