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Inside the Lab Biochemistry and molecular biology, Technology and innovation

Sensitive Joints

Over 30 million US adults and nearly nine million UK adults over the age of 45 suffer from osteoarthritis (1)(2). The molecule hyaluronan, also known as hyaluronic acid, plays an essential role in joint physiological functions, giving rise to its use as a biomarker for osteoarthritis. The downside, however, is that the molecule offers neither high sensitivity nor a high dynamic range; consequently, the results it provides are only semiquantitative. Now, researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine, Cornell University, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center are looking to  boost sensitivity for more quantitative measurements with a solid-state nanopore sensor (3). To find out more about the technique, we spoke with Adam Hall, lead researcher and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Osteoarthritis (OA)”, (2018). Available at: bit.ly/2uRicCU. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  2. Arthritis Research UK, “State of musculoskeletal health 2017”, (2017). Available at:
  3. bit.ly/2IbZE3M. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  4. F Rivas et al., “Label-free analysis of physiological hyaluronan size distribution with a solid-state nanopore sensor”, Nat Commun, 9, 1037 (2018). PMID: 29531292.

About the Author

William Aryitey

My fascination with science, gaming, and writing led to my studying biology at university, while simultaneously working as an online games journalist. After university, I travelled across Europe, working on a novel and developing a game, before finding my way to Texere. As Associate Editor, I’m evolving my loves of science and writing, while continuing to pursue my passion for gaming and creative writing in a personal capacity.

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