Sequencing of Cartilage Genes Helps Scientists Develop Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Scientists announced the completion of the comprehensive genetic sequencing of healthy and diseased human cartilage cells. The recent completion of the Human Genome Project greatly contributed to these developments, which could lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis.

“The Human Genome Project recently announced completion of sequencing of the human genome. This is a seminal scientific achievement and has provided an important foundation for our work,” said Dr. K. Wayne Marshall, Chief Clinical Scientist for ChondroGene Limited, an applied genomics company. “ChondroGene has taken the next step by using a disease-specific approach, and focusing specifically on the comprehensive identification and sequencing of the genes expressed by human cartilage cells.

“ChondroGene’s cartilage and tissue libraries, and the gene expression data generated from them, are a major scientific achievement,” commented Dr. Robin Poole. “This will put Canada in a key position to develop new diagnostic tools and therapies for osteoarthritis.”

Affecting 3 million (1 in 10) Canadians, osteoarthritis is a chronic disease characterized by the degeneration of the cartilage that forms the articulating surface of joints. The disease can affect any joint but is usually found in the hips, knees, hands and spine. Both men and women struggle with osteoarthritis, which is most commonly symptomatic after age 45, and affects 50% of the population over age 50.

The baby boom generation has a longer life expectancy than that of its parents and, therefore, osteoarthritis will claim an ever-increasing number of sufferers. While treatment for symptoms of the disease exists, there is currently no treatment for disease modification, nor is there a cure.

Denis Morrice, President and CEO of the Canadian Arthritis Society noted, “Osteoarthritis not only places enormous stress on those living with the disease and their families but it also puts a tremendous burden on the Canadian economy. Osteoarthritis, other types of arthritis, and musculoskeletal diseases, cost us $17.8 billion annually. We congratulate ChondroGene on its scientific achievement which signifies a great step forward toward finding a cure for this disabling and often devastating disease.”

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