From WKYT: New discovery by CHS researchers could accelerate recovery in ACL injuries

By Jeremy Tombs

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Researchers at the University of Kentucky say they may have found the key to long-term knee health after an injury like an ACL tear.

It could also speed up a patient’s healing process.

With hundreds of thousands of cases a year, ACL injuries are common in the United States, but the road to recovery varies.

Amit Gohil‘s incident occurred more than a year ago.

“I thought I just got kind of bumped on the back leg and then stepped off the field. Tried to take a couple more steps and get back in the game, and my leg almost gave out on me,” Gohil said.

Dr. Christopher Fry says ACL tears open the door to developing a degenerative joint disease called osteopathic arthritis later on in life.

“You can have exacerbated pain, degradation of the cartilage. Things that affect your ability to perform your tasks, your daily living, and impact your employment opportunities,” said Dr. Fry.

They observed years ago that there is a lot of prolonged muscle weakness after the injury specifically in the thigh. Through their new study, Fry’s team found a protein in that thigh muscle called GDF8 that could be the root cause of the issue.

“Those individuals who had the greatest induction of this GDF8, who turned it on the most, had the greatest deficit in the size of their muscles, the strength of their muscles. As well as they tended to lose the greatest amount of bone surrounding that knee,” said Dr. Fry.

So, their research now turns to how they can safely block this protein in people.

“We’re very enthusiastic about these early findings, but that’s a key step in moving to affect the care of patients,” said Dr. Fry.

A year on, Gohil continues to work his way back while Dr. Fry and his team at UK work to ensure a healthy future for him and countless others.

“I think some of the work that comes out of the lab has validated the experience that I had. I lost a lot of muscle and a lot of function,” Gohil said. “I hope they can find other ways to make this better.”

Dr. Fry says they’ve tested blocking the protein in mice, and it’s worked to great effect. Their next step is to try and translate that to the human body.

The team is made up entirely of researchers at the University of Kentucky.

See the entire story here.