Bioengineers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have shown for the first time that lithium chloride, a common drug used to treat mental health disorders, could offer an effective treatment against osteoarthritis by disrupting the length of the cells' antennae called primary cilia.
Publishing in the journal FASEB, the scientists show that medical manipulation of the primary cilia, which are tiny hair-like structures protruding from the surface of most human cells, disrupts a key biological process called 'Hedgehog Signalling'.
Osteoarthritis is a painful disease affecting millions of people. It results from the cartilage breaking down at the joints and leads to difficulties in moving around and being active. Being able to control Hedgehog Signalling has previously been shown to reduce the severity of arthritis.