Scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation were awarded $480,000 in grants for multi-year research projects on the role of exercise in treating osteoarthritis pain and also the mechanisms heart cells use to communicate.
Researchers Tim Griffin, Ph.D., and Hui-Ying Lim, Ph.D., are both members of OMRF’s Free Radical Biology and Aging Program.
Griffin received a 2-year, $200,000 grant from the Arthritis Foundation to study how exercise affects molecular changes in the knee joint that reduce osteoarthritis pain.
Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder that affects 27 million Americans. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions bones at the joints breaks down and wears away, allowing bones to rub together. This results in pain, stiffness and swelling and can cause bone spurs to form around the joint, making it even more difficult to move freely.
Exercise can help manage osteoarthritis pain, but the science behind it is largely unexplored. Griffin’s goal is to better understand the basic molecular changes that take place and use the information to find better treatments to reduce osteoarthritis pain with fewer adverse side effects.
“The ultimate goal is to help develop better medications and therapies to reduce arthritis pain and disability,” Griffin said.
Lim received a 4-year, $280,000 grant from the American Heart Association to look at how different kinds of heart cells communicate and how those interactions are essential for proper heart function.
Her research uses the fruit fly—Drosophila melanogaster—as a model system to study how free radical (also known as reactive oxygen species or ROS) signaling in non-myocytic cells could influence the heart muscle cells (or cardiomyocytes).
“If we can identify the key players in this ROS pathway, we think it will reveal important insights into cell-to-cell interactions,” she said. “That information could be vital in understanding heart disease and how to maintain heart health.”