Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder of the cartilages in joints leading to pain and immobility. There is no cure to this disease. A study that used bovine cartilage samples exposed to inflammatory molecules to follow the effects of arthritis and then used lithium chloride to treat the tissue, suggested that this commonly-used drug could be used to prevent the degradation and loss of mechanical integrity of cartilages in patients with arthritis.
Co-author Martin Knight, a professor from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) said, "Osteoarthritis has a devastating impact on the lives of many people in the UK and it is vital that we look for novel ways to prevent it."
The research team also found that long-term dietary use of lithium did not cause arthritis. Knight said, "While we're still at an early stage in researching lithium's effects on cartilage and its suitability as a treatment, the possibility that an already widely available pharmaceutical could slow its progress is a significant step forward."