New blood test ‘more accurate’ in identifying, predicting osteoarthritis progression

January 25, 2023

1 min read


Duke Health press release

This study was funded by the NIH.

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A new blood test may offer a more accurate way to track and predict the progression of knee osteoarthritis than current approaches, according to a press release from Duke Health.

The test relies on a set of biomarkers and fills an “important void” in OA research, as researchers have been generally unable to enroll suitable patients into clinical trials in the absence of reliable ways to identify and predict the risk for OA progressionread a statement from Duke Health, in Durham, North Carolina.


A new blood test may offer a more accurate way to track and predict the progression of knee osteoarthritis than current methods, according to a press release from Duke Health. Source: Adobe Stock

“Therapies are lacking, but it’s difficult to develop and test new therapies because we don’t have a good way to determine the right patients for the therapy,” VVirginia Byers Kraus, MD, PhD, a professor in the departments of medicine, pathology and orthopedic surgery at the Duke University School of Medicine, and senior author of the study, said in the release. The study is published in Science Advances.

To aid researchers in the identification and prediction of OA progression, Kraus and colleagues, conducted a study isolating more than a dozen molecules in blood associated with disease progression.

The researchers were able to narrow a list of involved molecules to 15 markers associated with 13 proteins. The proteins can be investigated and counted through a blood sample, read the press release.

According to the researchers, these markers accurately predicted 73% of progressors from non-progressors in 596 patients with knee OA. Meanwhile, markers currently in use, involving pain assessments and proteins found in urine, demonstrate lower prediction accuracies, at 59% and 58%, respectively.

“In addition to being more accurate, this new biomarker has an additional advantage of being a blood-based test,” Kraus said in the release. “Blood is a readily accessible bio-specimen, making it an important way to identify people for clinical trial enrollment and those most in need of treatment.”

The new, blood-based marker set was additionally successful in identifying patients whose joints demonstrate progression in X-ray scans, regardless of pain symptoms, according to Duke.

“It’s a chicken-and-the-egg predicament,” Kraus said in the release. “In the immediate future, this new test will help identify people with high risk of progressive disease — those likely to have both pain and worsening damage identified on X-rays — who should be enrolled in clinical trials. Then we can learn if a therapy is beneficial.”

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