Image of the Day: Reversing Arthritis

A combination of two drugs appears to restore cartilage in rats.

Amy Schleunes
Amy Schleunes

A former intern at The Scientist, Amy studied neurobiology at Cornell University and later earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She is a Los...

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Jan 28, 2020
Rat knee joints. From top to bottom: healthy cartilage, cartilage damaged by arthritis, placebo-treated cartilage, and cartilage following treatment with αKLOTHO and TGFβR2
salk institute

Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered an effective treatment for arthritis in rats, the authors report in a study published on January 16 in Protein & Cell. The protocol combines two molecules, αKLOTHO, which helps stop the degradation of cells in the smooth tissue covering the ends of bones, and TGFβR2, which stimulates the proliferation of cartilage cells and prevents them from breaking down, according to a press release

Each drug alone had only a minimal effect, but the combination therapy resulted in thicker cartilage, less cell death, and more proliferating cells. The team also treated isolated cartilage cells from human joints, demonstrating that the drugs had similar effects in vitro.

“That’s not the same as showing how these drugs affect the knee joint in humans, but we think it’s a good sign that this could potentially work for patients,” says coauthor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte in the statement.

P. Martinez-Redondo et al., "aKLOTHO and sTGFßR2 treatment counteract the osteoarthritic phenotype developed in a rat model," Cell & Proteindoi: 10.1007/s13238-019-00685-7, 2020.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at