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In OA, loss of cartilage leads to thickening of the underlying bone to reduce load on cartilage. Further bone changes occur as bony outgrowths (osteophytes) at the outer edges of the joint and it is these structural changes along with narrowing of the joint space that contributes to painful stiff joints.

At the Centre, we are investigating the triggers and factors mediating osteophyte formation to develop ways to prevent pain and loss of joint mobility.


  • By determining the structure and composition of osteophytes using high resolution imaging technology, we aim to identify the molecular triggers driving their formation. The relationship between osteophyte size and pain will also be established. 
  • In an initiative with the MRC unit at Harwell, the formation of osteophytes is being investigated with a view to defining genes which control the size and shape of these bony outgrowths. 
  • We are looking at the role of inflammation in osteophyte formation to determine whether they are triggered by inflammation or whether osteophyte formation is a useful mechanical adaptation to an unstable joint.