WARF: P03092US

Method to Diagnose and Treat Degenerative Joint Disease


Peter Muir, Ray Vanderby, Paolo Provenzano

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing methods for detecting and treating joint disease.
OVERVIEWJoint disease results in huge economic costs and can significantly reduce the quality-of-life of people who suffer from it. Pain, inflammation, and instability of the joint are common. Treatment is generally limited to easing the pain and reducing the swelling, but for joints with end-stage disease, surgical treatments, such as arthrodesis (fusion of the joint) or prosthetic joint replacement are also often used. No cure for degenerative joint disease or arthritis currently exists.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed methods for detecting and treating joint disease, particularly in joints containing a functionally important intra-articular ligament or tendon. To diagnose joint or ligament degeneration, a sample is taken from a joint or ligament and tested for the expression of cathepsin K, cathepsin S, or tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP). Because these enzymes are up-regulated during the development of inflammatory arthritis or ligament degeneration, increased levels indicate the presence of disease. Treatment of joint or ligament disease would involve inhibiting the activity of cathepsin K, cathepsin S, or TRAP.
  • Early diagnosis of joint or ligament disease, including arthritis and degeneration of ligaments and tendons
  • Treating joint degeneration, both naturally-occurring degeneration and that resulting from trauma
  • May lead to methods of preventing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture in humans
  • May also lead to methods of preventing or treating cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture in dogs
  • Could potentially minimize the need for radical interventions, such as surgery, in the treatment of joint disease
  • Could allow a person suffering from joint or ligament disease to follow the progression of the disease over time and make more informed treatment decisions
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.
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