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Dr. Virgina Kraus’s lab at Duke University recently published findings from their study showing the ability to detect osteoarthritis (OA) with a blood biomarker test up to eight years before spotting it by X-rays.

Their study was conducted in a cohort of 200 women based in the United Kingdom, a subset of The Chingford study longitudinal cohort established in 1989. A panel developed to identify prognostic markers of clinically relevant knee OA progression was used to select the candidate biomarkers for analysis. They found that prediction of knee OA based on six of these serum peptides was superior to prediction based on age and BMI up to eight years before the appearance of radiographic abnormality, with a 77% probability of distinguishing those who will develop OA from those who will not.

In an interview for WRAL news, Dr. Kraus stated that the ability to identify OA prior to the onset of symptoms could incentivize people to start doing the things they should be doing but maybe aren’t doing (e.g. maintaining healthy weight, incorporating healthy foods into diet, physical activity such as daily exercise). Additionally, she remarked that early detection of OA could help with the application of treatments to affected risk groups sooner.

In addition to Kraus, study authors include Shuming Sun, Alexander Reed, Erik J. Soderblom, M Arthur Moseley, Kaile Zhou, Vaibhav Jain, Nigel Arden, and Yi-Ju Li.

The study received funding support from National Institutes of Health (R01-AR071450 and P30-AG028716).

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