An Interview with Osteoarthritis Researcher Neety Sahu 

Neety Sahu is working with Stanford University to research the inner workings of osteoarthritis in the hopes of discovering new ways of diagnosing and treating this disease. 

You’ve probably heard that diagnosing a disease as early as possible is very important for managing that disease. 

In the past, it has been impossible to detect osteoarthritis before symptoms have started to show, but changing that is a big part of Sahu’s current work. This work could also lead to better treatment methods for this all-too-common disease. 

Using cutting-edge techniques, Sahu examines affected samples at the cellular level to understand osteoarthritis better than we ever have before. 

Sahu has also been part of many peer-reviewed articles on the subject, which is a major accomplishment that sets her apart from many in the field. 

Artvoice interviewed Sahu about her research and what it means for the future diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis. 

Thank you for joining us. First, I’d like to ask you to explain the basics of your research and why you chose this as a focus. 

The basis of my research is to understand the cells involved in osteoarthritis. I use state-of-the-art single-cell techniques to decipher and make sense of the heterogeneity in cells and between patient samples. I chose this as my focus area because of the mounting evidence of the non-responsiveness of patients with osteoarthritis to potential drugs for osteoarthritis in clinical studies.

What does this research process look like in action? What does the timeline look like? 

It’s a big undertaking as we require a big sample size since we are dealing with a disease that manifests heterogeneously in individuals. I have been working on this for over two years so far.

Just how prevalent is osteoarthritis here in the US and elsewhere around the world? 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis affected 1 in 4 US adults from 2013 to 2015, which translates to about 58.5 million people. Worldwide osteoarthritis affects 7% of the population, roughly 500 million people.

Do these biomarkers allow for diagnosis of osteoarthritis before the patient has experienced any symptoms? 

Yes, the aim of the research is to find biomarkers that can diagnose osteoarthritis before a patient experiences symptoms and before visible damage to the joint tissues are apparent.

In terms of diagnosis and treatment, what is the ultimate goal of your research? 

To find biomarkers and targets for early diagnosis and treatment of osteoarthritis, respectively.

Could this research also potentially lead to breakthroughs that benefit the treatment of other forms of arthritis as well, or would the results stay specific to osteoarthritis? 

This research is specific to osteoarthritis but overlaps can be found in other forms of arthritis as well.

Do you ever have difficulty staying motivated to continue your work, or is every day exciting in some way? 

Honestly, it would be a lie to say every day is exciting. I would say that I’m motivated enough to continue my work regardless of whether I’m having a good or a bad day.

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Mike Thompson

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