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Silk Research could help Osteoarthritis

In the second part of our "Medical Marvels of Silk" series, we look at how silk can help with osteoarthritis

Silk is currently the focus of much scientific research, particularly its ability to resist rejection when used in the body. This incredible property is being explored by Cocoon Biotech, a Boston-based startup research company, who hope to research an injectable form of silk to be used for joint treatment.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the bones in a joint rub together too much, and the resulting friction causes the destruction of the cartilage 'cushion' that normally surrounds the bones. This damage causes an inflammatory pain reaction, and can also lead to difficulty in movement. In the UK, 8.5 million people sought treatment for osteoarthritis, with 33% of those being as young as 45*. The cost of treating this condition is high, with patients requiring anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy or even sometimes joint replacement surgery. 

How can silk help?

Finding a solution to this problem needs to solve 2 problems. The first is that the joints affected need to have some mechanical help, such as cushioning to replace the cartilage cushion surrounding the bones.  The second issue is that the product needs to be added directly onto the effected joint, so that it won't be broken down elsewhere.

Cocoon Biotech silk research

The researchers at Cocoon Biotech have been able to re-create fully the silk made by the silkworms, by "reading" its proteins backwards. They are hoping that this finished silk can be placed in solution and injected directly into the target joint. The first product they are hoping to develop is a lubricant, which would act to replace the cartilage 'cushion' and would stop bone-rubbing and inflammation. They hope that this could halt the progression of the disease, and that this will be commercialised by 2020.

How our products can help

Our silk duvets contain 100% hand-laid silk, ensuring even coverage throughout the whole duvet. This stops any lumping of material, and stops pressure points which could aggravate poorly joints. In addition, our duvets are extremely lightweight, and will mould themselves around your bodies, allowing a truly comfortable night's sleep. To read more about the health benefits of our products, follow to our frequently asked questions page. 

* = Arthritis Research UK figures