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At some point, medical research often involves laboratory animals. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Comparative Orthopedic Laboratory have found a way to minimize the use of laboratory animals when it comes to arthritis research.

The Mizzou researchers have developed an in vitro model using small sections of joint capsule and cartilage that are typically discarded. This material mimics arthritic joints and can be used to investigate causes and mechanisms for the¬†development and progression of arthritis and to screen new treatments–such as pharmaceuticals. It allows researchers to better understand arthritic disease development, characteristics and responses to various injuries, and treatments.

Using in vitro models eliminates the problems of accessibility to appropriate test subjects and ethical considerations that can arise in human studies. The in vitro model acts similar to an actual joint with the same histological, biochemical, and molecular changes.