Raman Spectroscopic Diagnostics of Osteoarthritis
The early stages of osteoarthritis (OA) represent a critical clinical window when therapeutics may be most effective at halting cartilage degeneration. However, the ability to diagnose early OA remains a major clinical challenge, as conventional imaging platforms are only suited for diagnosing its later stages, after irreversible cartilage erosion has occurred.
An exciting new project in the Albro Lab is the use of Raman spectroscopy to develop the first-ever platform to diagnose the earliest stages of OA. Through a collaborative effort with the Bergholt Lab of Kings College London () and Dr. Brian Snyder (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), we have developed a novel intra-articular, hypodermic-needle-based Raman probe to achieve an “optical biopsy” of cartilage composition and structure. Through multivariate data analytics, this Raman diagnostic platform can perform the first ever comprehensive assessment of the hallmark degenerative changes associated with early OA, including: 1) depletion of GAG from the cartilage ECM, 2) alignment loss of collagen fibers in the superficial zone, 3) cartilage swelling, and 4) initial levels of cartilage erosion. The diagnostic platform is portable, safe, rapid, easy-to-implement, and low cost.
Overall, this system can serve as: 1) a valuable clinical and pre-clinical research tool to evaluate the efficacy of novel OA therapeutics, and 2) in the future, an outpatient-based real-time diagnostic platform to guide treatment based on OA grade and stage.