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A miracle jab that could ease the misery of arthritis for millions of sufferers has been developed by scientists.
The breakthrough may reduce the need for hip and knee replacement surgery that cost the NHS more than £1bn a year.
It is based on a protein that boosts cartilage generation and reduces inflammation of joints.
Experiments on rats and human cells were so successful human trials are now being planned.
A US team said it opens the door to a patient with arthritis forgoing an operation in favour of a shot.
Denis Evseenko, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, said: "The goal is to make an injectable therapy for an early to moderate level of arthritis."
It offers hope to more than eight million people in the UK with osteoarthritis, the leading cause of joint pain and stiffness.
Until now medications have been designed only to help relieve pain but these have side effects including stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and even stroke.
The new therapy could be a 'game changer' in the treatment of the condition. It also has the potential to treat other painful inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The procedure involves injecting a small molecule into a joint. Prof Evseenko and colleagues discovered it enhances cartilage regeneration while decreasing inflammation.
They are optimistic after "auspicious early results" reported in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
After application to joint cartilage cells in the laboratory, they proliferated more and died less.
And when injected into the knees of rats with damaged cartilage, the animals could more effectively heal their injuries.
Prof Evseenko, of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, said: "It is not going to cure arthritis, but it will delay the progression of arthritis to the damaging stages when patients need joint replacements, which account for a million surgeries a year in the US."
About 160,000 hip and knee replacements a year are carried out by the NHS in England and Wales, with the figure rising by roughly eight per cent annually as the population ages.
As its name implies, the new molecule RCGD 423 (Regulator of Cartilage Growth and Differentiation) fuels regeneration while curbing inflammation.
It exerts its effects by communicating with a specific protein in the body. This molecule, called GP130 (glycoprotein 130) receptor, receives two very different types of signals.
These promote cartilage development in the embryo, and trigger chronic inflammation in the adult.
The study showed RCGD 423 amplifies the Gp130 receptor's ability to receive the developmental signals that can stimulate cartilage regeneration.
At the same time it blocks the inflammatory signals that can lead to cartilage degeneration over the long term.
The team is already laying the groundwork for a clinical trial to test RCGD 423, or a similar molecule, as a treatment for osteoarthritis or juvenile arthritis.
Arthritis is a condition most people associate with the elderly. But it also affects an estimated 15,000 children and young people in the UK.
Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Although it is still very early days, this injectable treatment could be promising for people with early onset osteoarthritis.
"This piece of research has been conducted in animals, and so it is not yet clear whether this potential therapy could be useful in humans.
"More than eight million people in the UK are living with the pain of osteoarthritis, which can have a devastating impact on everyday life, making such things as getting dressed and getting to work difficult.
"Investment in research that leads to new treatments, such as this, is key to helping these people lead the fulfilled lives they deserve."
Prof Evseenko sees RCGD 423 as a prototype for a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs with a very broad range of uses.
His lab has already developed several structural analogs of RCGD 423 with varying biological effects and potency.
In a previous study published in Nature Cell Biology, RCGD 423 was shown to activate stem cells to make hair grow.
The lab is partnering with other scientists at USC and beyond to explore the broader potential of these molecules.
This includes using them to treat rheumatoid arthritis, jaw arthritis, lupus, neurological and heart diseases and baldness, as well as maintain pluripotent stem cells in the laboratory.
DISCLAIMER: Note that the contents here are not presented from a medical practitioner,and that any and all health care planning should be made under the guidance of your own medical and health practitioners. The content within only presents an overview based upon research for educational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a practicing physician. Further, the information in this manual is provided "as is" and without warranties of any kind either express or implied. Under no circumstances, including, but not limited to, negligence, shall the seller/distributor of this information be liable for any special or consequential damages that result from the use of, or the inability to use, the information presented here. Thank you.
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Arthritis is a big issue. Look at some introductory facts. Referred to as the nation’s number one crippling disease and the most common chronic disease in people over 40, arthritis affects more than 40 million Americans. And this figure is expected to rise to 60 million by 2020, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Arthritis generally afflicts people between the ages of 20 and 50, but can affect all ages, even infants. The average age of onset is 47 and about three out of every five people with arthritis are under 65 years of age.
Arthritic expenditures for just one person due to lost wages, medical treatment and other related expenses can come to more than $150,000 in his or her lifetime.
And doctors believe there are over 100 different forms of arthritis, all sharing one main characteristic: all forms cause joint inflammation.
What can be done for arthritis relief? Many things. For example, weight and nutrition are only a couple of factors that play a role in arthritic pain. And yet shedding even 10 pounds to relieve weight from knees and finding the right nutritional strategy can help relieve pain a lot.
I give you the most recent research and findings available so that you can learn more about arthritis relief, covering as many bases as possible from A to Z. Note that the contents here are not presented from a medical practitioner, and that any and all health care planning should be made under the guidance of your own medical and health practitioners. The content within only presents an overview of arthritis relief research for educational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a professional physician.
Arthritis signals people in a variety of ways. Joints might crack suddenly, like knees upon standing. Other joints may be stiff and creak. Maybe pain occurs, like when trying to open a jar. What’s it all about? Let’s look at the basics and learn more.
Arthritis actually means “joint inflammation” and has over 100 related conditions or type / forms of disease. Left untreated, it can advance, resulting in joint damage that cannot be undone or reversed. So early detection and treatment are important.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although both have similar symptoms, both happen for different reasons. When joints are overused and misused, the results can be OA. What happens is that the cushioning cartilage that protects the joint breaks down, resulting in the bones rubbing together. This generally happens in the knees, but can be found in the hips, spine and hands often, too. And only in later stages will a person most often feel pain, after quite a bit of cartilage is lost.
The second type, RA, refers to the body’s immune system attacking joint tissue. Still not fully understood in the medical community, this condition most often starts in a person’s hands, wrists and feet. Then it advances to shoulders, elbows and hips.
Similar symptoms include pain, stiffness, fatigue, weakness, slight fever and inflamed tissue lumps under the skin. And both OA and RA generally develop symmetrically, i.e. affecting the same joints on both the left and right sides of the body.
A difference in OA and RA to note is with swelling. With RA, people report “soft and squishy” swelling. While with OA, people report “hard and bony” swelling.
Another difference is that a person is more likely to develop RA if a sibling or parent had it. While a person with a history of joint damage, either an injury or chronic strain, runs a higher risk for developing OA.
There is no specific age for arthritis sufferers. While it can affect every age group, it seems to focus on those over 45 years of age.
And while neither gender is immune, a reported 74 percent of OA cases (or just over 15 million) occur with women and a slightly lower percentage of RA cases occur with women.
People with excess weight tend to develop OA, especially in the knees when reaching over 45 years of age. However, losing weight can turn the odds around almost by half. Regular activity combined with exercise also reduces risk, strengthening joint muscles and reducing joint wear.
Although there are no cure-alls for arthritis, there are a variety of pain relief treatment strategies. Aside from medications, remedies, replacement alternatives and other helpful treatment options and alternatives, the four main arthritis relief aids are gentle exercise, good nutrition, a positive attitude and rest. And each will be discussed further in subsequent sections, because education can play a huge role to dispel “old wives tales” and myths that “nothing can be done about arthritis.” Notable is that today,
only a small percentage of those afflicted with arthritis become crippled. And most never need canes, wheelchairs, or other ambulatory devices.
Also note if you suspect you may have arthritis, it is advisable to seek
medical advice. Because healthcare providers can help to determine if the
symptoms are not something else like a virus or tendonitis or other similar
problem that could potentially worsen if left untreated.