COLUMBIA, Mo., July 11 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've found genetic signs indicating onset of arthritis that may someday help identify the disease as early as possible.
University of Missouri-Columbia researchers say no cure for arthritis exists because it has not been possible to diagnose the disease while it's in a state that is reversible.
"While some researchers are looking at various biomarkers in blood and other bodily fluids, we've identified 16 genes in the cartilage that may be involved with the onset of the disease," said James Cook, a professor of veterinary medicine and surgery.
Cook is examining dogs that have the disease since dogs develop the signs and symptoms of arthritis at a much faster rate.
Using specific MRI, arthroscopy and biochemical techniques to identity problems associated with arthritis, he then identifies the genetic changes that correlate with the damage.
Cook says the implications of determining if a person will have arthritis are enormous; lifestyle changes could be started before the disease even appears, and physicians could preemptively prescribe pharmaceuticals known to slow cartilage degeneration.
The study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research and Surgery.