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Cutting Edge of Osteroarthritis Treatment

The Cutting Edge of Osteoarthritis Treatment
By Susan Bernstein
Humans have dealt with the pain, stiffness and swelling of osteoarthritis (OA) for ages. Yet researchers still study the disease vigorously with the goals of finding more about what causes OA, what steps may help people prevent OA and what new treatments may alleviate its symptoms and halt joint damage.
Causes of Osteoarthritis: Revealing Research
•    Speakers at the ACR Basic Science Symposium session suggested that OA should be viewed as an inflammatory disease, almost like rheumatoid arthritis.
•    One study suggested a link between the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), typically the basic way cells resolve stress due to aging, and OA development. The study found UPR is impaired in older adults, and that impairment provides a foundation for the development of osteoarthritis affecting the connective tissues.
•    Other studies focused on OA’s potential genetic triggers. One finding, a University of North Carolina study, focusing on a group of 5,000 adults age 45 or older, revealed that six genes in particular showed significant signs of rendering a person susceptible to developing knee OA.
•    Some types of hand OA may predict faster progression of OA in the knees, another study suggested.
•    Researchers showed that one gene was shown to be higher in people with knee OA than in other patients in the control group.
•    A protein in the body, Complement C5 might also play a key role in OA.
New Details on Osteoarthritis Treatments
•    Vitamin D is touted as having many almost miraculous benefits for treating and preventing disease, including OA pain and structural damage. Yet a two-year clinical trial found no benefit of Vitamin D therapy in reducing pain or modifying structure in knee OA.
•    One ACR study looked at possible therapeutic angles to activating particular gene pathways to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.
•    Another study showed that OA patients taking a combination of naproxen sodium and Vimovo had similar efficacy and tolerability to those taking Celebrex and had more heartburn-free days than those taking Celebrex.
New Osteoarthritis Medicines on the Horizon?
One new treatment in development for OA pain, tanezumab, showed great promise in Phase II and III clinical trials for inhibiting nerve growth factor, a chemical which may be linked to OA pain in injured or inflamed tissues. Yet one key trial was halted last summer when patients’ OA damage worsened although their pain was lessened by the drug.
Stem-cell therapy may also hold promise for OA. The study suggested stem cells might be used to rebuild damaged tissues in people with OA, helping them boost their affected joints’ function.
New Scrutiny for Longtime Treatment
Due to acetaminophen’s possible risk of liver damage when taken in higher doses, the FDA announced that prescription products containing acetaminophen, including in combination with other drugs such as narcotic pain relievers, must have no more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per tablet or capsule. Such products must also carry a boxed warning of the risk of severe liver injury associated with taking too much acetaminophen.
For additional information, please contact Sonya Andrew at the Arthritis Foundation at 518-456-1203 or by email at sandrew@arthritis.org. You can also visit our website at http://www.arthritis.org

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