Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. While the significant pain, limited activity, and decreased quality of life that affect patients with osteoarthritis can usually be managed, the damage to joints can't be reversed.
Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and medical director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine at Mayo Clinic Square in Minneapolis, is leading a study of regenerative therapies as a treatment option when standard of care procedures do not work. The study is funded through a Regenerative Medicine Minnesota research grant.
“One regenerative medicine option for those suffering from osteoarthritis is the use of platelet rich plasma, or PRP,” says Dr. Finnoff. “While there is mounting evidence that PRP injections may reduce pain and improve function in people with osteoarthritis, we think we can make it better; therefore, we’re looking to developing a safer, more effective alternative PRP treatment option.”
PRP is made using a patient’s own blood. After the blood is drawn, it is spun in a centrifuge which separates the cells and blood into different layers. The concentrated layer of platelets, which is used for PRP, contains proteins that are involved in the healing process and may also decrease inflammation; however, PRP also contains some proteins that might trigger inflammation of the breakdown of tissue.
“Our study involves trying to remove the inflammatory proteins and those that might be involved in breaking down tissues from the PRP so it has a stronger anti-inflammatory and healing affect,” says Dr. Finnoff. “This is done by attaching proteins to tiny beads that bind to the proteins that we want to remove from the PRP.”
Once a patient’s PRP product is developed, researchers will then inject the new “purified PRP” back into the injured area to see if it is effective to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms.
“Right now we treat osteoarthritis symptomatically with weight loss, diet, exercise, braces, nutritional supplements, medications, injections, and joint replacement surgery,” says Dr. Finnoff. “If we can harness the healing potential of our body more effectively, we may be able to slow the progression of arthritis or even reverse its course, revolutionizing the treatment of osteoarthritis.”
Dr. Finnoff discusses his research in the video below: