Effective approaches to regenerate cartilage in humans are lacking. Dr Nohe's laboratory has received a $381k NIH R21 grant to determine the genes activated in cartilage cells by a mimetic peptide that restores cartilage formation in a mouse model for Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major debilitating disease caused by the gradual loss of cartilage, primarily affecting the knees, hips, hands, feet, and spine. OA increases aggregate health care expenditures by $186 billion annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 27 million Americans suffer from OA. Estimates show that by year 2030, 20% of the adult U.S. population, or nearly 67 million people, will have physician-diagnosed arthritis. Unfortunately, no long-term treatment for OA exists. Most current treatments of OA focus on reducing inflammation and pain symptoms while joint degradation continues. The lack of a repair mechanism will eventually lead to a condition that necessitates total knee replacement surgery. Therefore, new approaches for cartilage repair and regeneration must be developed. Dr. Nohe is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr Nohe's laboratory is interested in cartilage formation, especially how stem cells differentiation into chondrocytes. Dr Nohe's laboratory developed a peptide CK2.1 that induces cartilage formation in vitro and in vivo. The peptide mimics a specific region of the Bone morphogenetic protein receptor type I. Bone morphogenetic proteins drive stem cell differentiation to chondrocytes and also cartilage formation. They interact with their respective receptors on the cell surface of stem cells to induce a signaling cascade determining the fate of stem cells. Dr Nohe been awarded a R21 from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) to determine the genes activated by CK2.1 and whether CK2.1 can restore cartilage in late stages of OA.
Other foci of Dr Nohe's laboratory are mechanism of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation, skeletal formation and tissue regeneration. The laboratory uses state of the art novel imaging approaches and techniques to identify potential pathways and develop new therapeutics for skeletal diseases such as Osteoporosis. Dr Nohe's lab just demonstrated that bone cells isolated from patients diagnosed with Osteoporosis are defective and unable to respond to factors that activate bone formation.