Duke scientists are closer to understanding how cartilage senses injury-causing mechanical strain at the cellular level: a pair of channels that work together to cause cartilage cells to die off in droves. Using a substance found in tarantula venom to block these channels, the researchers have prevented cell death caused when cartilage cells detect mechanical strain. The findings could lead to drug targets for protecting joints and preventing the pain associated with cartilage injuries.
A molecule found in tarantula venom, the peptide GsMTx4, protects against cell death in a tissue model of cartilage injury. (Left) Injury to the cartilage causes cell death, shown in red. (Right) GsMTx4 significantly reduces cell death.
(Photo credit – Guilak and Liedtke laboratories)
Read more about this finding at http://today.duke.edu/2014/11/cartilage