Researchers studying how hyaluronic acid (HA) moves in the body suggest a possible reason why HA treatment of osteoarthritis has such variable outcomes.

According to the research team, led by Lawrence Bonassar, professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, and graduate student Edward Bonnevie, a molecule called lubricin helps anchor HA at the tissue surface, which, in turn, helps to move cartilage into a low-friction regime.

“The implication of this finding is that the efficacy of HA treatment might depend on how much lubricin is in the joint at the time of injection, which could explain why clinical trials of HA have such variable outcomes and may also suggest new formulations of HA that might be even more effective in the clinic,” Bonassar notes in a media release from Cornell University.

The study, published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, examined how multiple formulations of HA lubricated cartilage, and suggests that they all work by a similar mechanism.

Bonassar describes in the release that they work in a very similar way to how a car hydroplanes on a wet road. Essentially, he explains, the viscous HA solutions form pressurized films that lower the friction coefficient of cartilage, particularly at higher sliding speeds.

According to the release, scientists from Fidia Farmaceutici S.p.A. co-authored the study and used the results to bioengineer a new derivative of natural HA. This new HA derivative, known as HYADD4, has been approved by the FDA for clinical use in the US and will be marketed under the name Hymovis starting in March.

[Source(s): Cornell University, EurekAlert]