Arthritis impacts more than 90% of people over 65 – as well as an increasing number of younger people. New research indicates that algae could be the secret ingredient in tackling this degenerative disease.

Lab tests revealed that ‘polysaccharide alginate extracted from the stems of brown algae’ contain properties which could stop the degeneration of cartilage – the knees shock absorber – arthritis causes. The lab work was led by Katharina Maniura, a researcher from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), Marcy Zenobi-Wong, from ETHZ, along with SINTEF in Norway.

And while the alginate was able to reduce damage “the hope is that they can even stop this degeneration,” said Empa researcher Markus Rottmar.

Next the team will test on animals, before clinical trials can begin. If these stages go well patients can expect to have access to the treatment within a few years time.