It is known that people who are aged over 65 are suffering from joint pains and stiffness due to inflammation at bone joints called arthritis. This inflammation, resultant of oxidative stress (frequent cause of damage and cell death), can spread to all other joints in the body and degenerates the protective cartilage layer, a connective tissue at joints which protects bones from eruption due to friction. Affected joints, particularly knee, hip, and finger joints can be extremely painful and gets worse if left untreated.
So far, therapeutic approach for arthritis involves anti-inflammatory medication, pain killers, and some other immune suppressor drugs. In an attempt to develop a new therapeutic molecule for arthritis, researchers (at ETH Zurich, Empa, and the Norwegian research institute SINTEF) have extracted a polysaccharide substance (similar to specific extracellular bio molecules of cartilage tissue) from brown algae,Laminaria hyperborean,to supress the autoimmune responses to overcome oxidative stress that degenerate the cartilage tissue at bone joints.
This polysaccharide was chemically modified by adding additional sulphate groups and subjected it for in vitro studies on various cell cultures. Interestingly, researchers found that, the added sulphate groups to the polysaccharide extracted from brown algae have significantly suppressed the inflammatory reactions by combating the oxidative stress.
This compound is referred as alginate sulphate and demonstrated encouraging results at laboratory level. Markus Rottamar, researcher at Empa says that, this alginate sulphate can even stop the oxidative degeneration of cartilage tissue at bone joints (arthritis).