A non-invasive imaging method – chemical exchange saturation method (gagCEST) – that will be useful in the diagnosis and monitoring of some diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA) and inter-vertebral disc degeneration, has been developed by researchers at New York and Tel Aviv Universities.
The said procedure can detect OA and inter-vertebral disc degeneration in their early stages based on the glycosaminogycans (GAGs) concentration.
The research team examined glycosaminogycans (GAGs), which are molecules that serve as the building blocks of cartilage and are involved in numerous vital functions in the human body.
The NYU-Tel Aviv team developed the procedure that will directly measure GAGs.
In this study, they employed the exchangeable protons of GAG to directly measure GAG concentration in vivo.
Knowing that GAG molecules have proton groups that are not tethered tightly, the researchers investigated whether proton exchange in GAGs could allow concentrations of the molecule to be measured by the MRI.
By separating out the GAG protons from those of water, they can be used as a sort of inherent contrast agent. Testing the idea in tissue samples, the researchers found that the available GAG protons provided an effective type of contrast enhancement, allowing them to readily monitor GAGs through a clinical MRI scanner.
The in vivo application of this method showed that this technique can be readily implemented in a clinical setting.
We all know why catching any condition in its earliest stage is beneficial because, in this case, may help indicate early interventions for degenerative disc disease and maybe osteoarthritis.
Currently, how is OA diagnosed? According to Medicinenet:
There is no blood test for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Blood tests are performed to exclude diseases that can cause secondary osteoarthritis, as well as to exclude other arthritis conditions that can mimic osteoarthritis.
X-rays of the affected joints can suggest osteoarthritis. The common x-ray findings of osteoarthritis include loss of joint cartilage, narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones, and bone spur formation.
I bet the x-ray is not an adequate way to at all to catch OA in it tracks.
Find out more about osteoarthritis from Medicinenet.
Research finding have been reported in PNAS.