(ARA) – New treatments for arthritis and related diseases -- including the first synthetic hormone drugs for osteoporosis and more durable joint replacement materials -- are among the top 10 arthritis research advances of 2003, according to the Arthritis Foundation. This is the first time the Arthritis Foundation has compiled a year-end list of the most significant arthritis research advances.
Breakthrough discoveries also include a marker for rheumatoid arthritis -- similar to the PSA marker for prostate cancer -- and a distinctive gene pattern found in adults and children with lupus.
"As the number of people with arthritis continues to grow at an astonishing rate, research becomes more important than ever to prevent, control and eventually cure the nation’s number one cause of disability," says John H. Klippel, M.D., president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Exciting advances in 2003 offer hope to people with arthritis and provide a glimpse of the future, when screening for arthritis may become routine and the disease is stopped long before symptoms are present."
Other advances include:
* First FDA-approved oral drug for scleroderma reverses life-threatening complications
* Clarification of genetic defect that leads to childhood arthritis
* Prevention of heart disease complications in rheumatoid arthritis
* Disparities in joint replacement surgery revealed
* MRI allows earlier detection of osteoarthritis before symptoms are present
* Recommendations for individually tailored physical activity programs in people with arthritis
To develop the list, the Arthritis Foundation sought input from clinicians with expertise in different forms of arthritis, scientists from various research disciplines, as well as from the American College of Rheumatology, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
2003 Advances: A Glimpse of the Future
Research in 2003 showed that in the foreseeable future, people might benefit from routine genetic testing that can not only identify people at risk for arthritis, but also predict the severity of the disease. Such capabilities will enable physicians to tailor treatments to their patients’ needs, begin early and aggressive treatment options, and in some cases, prevent disease from ever occurring through the use of arthritis vaccines.
"Blood and imaging tests will enable earlier detection of disease, even prior to the onset of obvious symptoms such as pain and inflammation," adds Klippel. "As this year’s research shows, once disease is detected, we will be armed with more targeted, effective treatments."
The future also includes new wear-resistant implant and biologic materials that will change the approach to total joint replacement surgery. Improved joint reconstruction will enable people with arthritis to receive joint replacements earlier and experience a greater quality of life at a younger age. In addition, research advances in the health services arena will help to guide and improve health policy and resources to ensure access to quality care for all people.
Research advances, many of which are funded and advocated for by the Arthritis Foundation, are changing the nature of arthritis. A continuing investment in groundbreaking research is necessary to ensure that the more than 70 million Americans affected by arthritis are able to live healthy and active lives. With people living longer than ever before, preventing and managing chronic and disabling conditions like arthritis has never been more important.
How the Arthritis Foundation Helps
The Arthritis Foundation is the single largest non-profit contributor to arthritis research in the world and the only nationwide, nonprofit health organization helping people take greater control of arthritis by leading efforts to prevent, control and cure arthritis and related diseases -- the nation’s number one cause of disability. For free arthritis information, contact the Arthritis Foundation at (800) 283-7800 or on the Web at www.arthritis.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information, contact Lynne Unglo, Arthritis Foundation, (404) 965-7661, [email protected]
or Anna Okula, Porter Novelli, (404) 995-4554 [email protected]