These magnetic nanoparticles and specialized magnetic microneedle tips safely collect biomarkers that indicate early-stage osteoarthritis in knees, hips and other joints. Osteoarthritis affects 12.1 percent of American adults - nearly 27 million people, costing the nation an estimated $200 billion annually. Also known as "degenerative joint disease," osteoarthritis causes painful inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage that cushions joints. There is no cure, but intervention can delay osteoarthritis progression. Typically, the condition is only diagnosed after physical exams and X-rays reveal irreversible damage to connective tissue. Molecular biomarkers can help clinicians diagnose osteoarthritis much earlier. Unfortunately, obtaining these biomarkers has proven difficult. Aspiration of fluid from a joint is challenging unless the joint is swollen, and removing synovial fluid may cause pain and impair movement. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed functionalized magnetic nanoparticles and needle tips that enable collection of osteoarthritis-specific biomarkers, without the need for synovial fluid removal. The system may also have potential as an effective osteoarthritis treatment.
Magnetic tools that facilitate the collection of specific biomarkers, enabling safe diagnosis and monitoring of early-stage osteoarthritis
University of Florida researchers have developed magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic microneedle tips that isolate and remove specific biomarkers for diagnostic (and perhaps treatment) purposes. Early-stage osteoarthritis, for example, can be diagnosed more effectively using this technology. When functionalized magnetic nanoparticles are injected into a joint, they bind to osteoarthritis-specific biomarkers. A magnetic needle, expandable in one version, is then inserted into the joint to collect, assay and quantify the biomarkers and tagged magnetic nanoparticles without significantly altering the body's cushioning and lubricating synovial fluid.