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August 20, 2008, 8:16 PM CT

New test to diagnose osteoarthritis early

New test to diagnose osteoarthritis early
This illustration shows a joint with severe osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis wears away the cartilage at the ends of the bones. Spurs then grow out from the edge of the bone and synovial fluid increases. This may cause the joint to feel stiff and sore.

Credit: Credit: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

A newly developed medical imaging technology may provide doctors with a long-awaited test for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA), researchers from New York reported today at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. By far the most common form of arthritis, OA is a bane of the Baby Boom generation, causing joint pain and disability for more than half of those over 65 nearly 21 million people in the United States.

Current diagnostic methods commonly do not catch the disease until OA is in advanced stages when joint damage may already have occurred. A method for early diagnosis could open a window of opportunity for preventing or reducing permanent damage particularly with evidence that dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can halt further joint degeneration, says Alexej Jerschow, Ph.D., who reported on the research jointly with Ravinder R. Regatte, Ph.D.

"Our methods have the potential of providing early warning signs for cartilage disorders like osteoarthritis, thus potentially avoiding surgery and physical treatment later on," states Jerschow. "Also, the effectiveness of early preventative drug therapies can be better assessed with these methods".

Particularly common in the knee and hip, osteoarthritis damages cartilage, the tough, elastic material that cushions moving parts of joints. OA is the most common reason for total hip and total knee replacement surgery. "It has all these painful consequences and makes it difficult to move it results in a severe loss of quality of life for those who are affected by it," says Regatte.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


August 20, 2008, 6:29 PM CT

How rheumatoid arthritis causes bone loss

How rheumatoid arthritis causes bone loss
Scientists have discovered key details of how rheumatoid arthritis (RA) destroys bone, as per a research studyreported in the Aug. 22 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry The findings are already guiding attempts to design new drugs to reverse RA-related bone loss and may also address more common forms of osteoporosis with a few adjustments.

Two million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes swelling, pain and deformity in joints and also lead to the thinning of bone. In autoimmune diseases like RA, the body's disease-fighting immune cells mistakenly identify parts of a person's body as foreign invaders, akin to bacteria, and produce chemicals to destroy them. Among the immune chemicals known to play a central in autoimmune disease is tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), which ramps up the production of immune cells and chemicals as part of the body's response to disease. When overproduced in RA patients, TNF alpha signals for the destruction of cartilage and bone.

Beyond its control over immune cells, TNF alpha also influences bone mass. Human bone is continually regenerated to maintain strength. Under the control of signaling molecules which include TNF alpha, two cell types, balanced against each other, make bone recycling possible. Osteoclasts break down aging bone to make way for new bone, while osteoblasts build new bone at the sites where osteoclasts have removed it. Going into the study, the field understood that TNF alpha decreases the number of bone-building osteoblasts, but not how. The current study provides the first direct proof that the TNF alpha affects osteoblasts through an enzyme called Smad Ubiquitin Regulatory Factor 1 (Smurf1), which in turn shuts down two proteins that would otherwise drive bone-building.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 4, 2008, 10:53 PM CT

Regular tipple may curb risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Regular tipple may curb risk of rheumatoid arthritis
Alcohol cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50%, reveals research published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The Scandinavian scientists base their findings on more than 2750 people taking part in two separate studies, which assessed environmental and genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.

Over half the participants (1650) had the disease and had been matched for age, sex, and residential locality with randomly selected members of the general public.

All participants were quizzed about their lifestyle, including how much they smoked and drank. And blood samples were taken to check for genetic risk factors.

The results showed that drinking alcohol was linked to a significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. And the more alcohol was consumed, the lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Among those who drank regularly, the quarter with the highest consumption were up to 50% less likely to develop the disease compared with the half who drank the least.

The effect was the same for both men and women.

Among those with antibodies to a specific group of proteins involved in the development of the disease, alcohol cut the risk most in smokers with genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 3, 2008, 10:31 PM CT

Toward Ending Cartilage Loss

Toward Ending Cartilage Loss
Cartilage regeneration up close
A scanning electron microscope image shows a carbon nanotube/polymer composite surface that grows cartilage. Scale bar = 500 nm.
Credit: Dongwoo Khang, Thomas Webster/Brown University
Researchers have long wrestled with how to aid those who suffer cartilage damage and loss. One popular way is to inject an artificial gel that can imitate cartilage's natural ability to act as the body's shock absorber. But that solution is temporary, requiring follow-up injections.

Now Brown University nanotechnology specialist Thomas Webster has found a way to regenerate cartilage naturally by creating a synthetic surface that attracts cartilage-forming cells. These cells are then coaxed to multiply through electrical pulses. It's the first study that has shown enhanced cartilage regeneration using this method; it appears in the current issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Part A.

"Cartilage regeneration is a big problem," said Webster, an associate professor in the Division of Engineering and the Department of Orthopaedics at Brown. "You don't feel pain until significant cartilage damage has occurred and it's bone rubbing on bone. That's why research into how to regenerate cartilage is so important".

Webster's work involves carbon nanotubes, which are molecular-scale tubes of graphitic carbon that are among the stiffest and strongest fibers known and are great conductors of electrons. They are being studied intensively worldwide for a range of commercial, industrial and medical uses.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 3, 2008, 10:23 PM CT

Recommendations for Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy

Recommendations for Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy
To manage the painful and incapacitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic, inflammatory joint disease, the majority of patients rely on disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In addition to trusted nonbiologic DMARDs, many biologic agents now promise to improve therapy for RA. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR), respected worldwide for its devotion to fostering excellence in patient care, has not updated recommendations for non-biologic DMARDs since 2002 and has not previously developed recommendations for biologic agents. In view of that, ACR decided it was time for a major re-evaluation of the use of DMARD treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.

Under the guidance of a Core Expert Panel of clinicians and methodologists and based on a systematic review of the scientific evidence, a second group of internationally recognized clinicians, methodologists, and patient representatives with extensive expertise in the use of nonbiologic and biologic DMARDs developed these recommendations for the ACR and the results of their work will be presented in the June 2008 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis). These recommendations on the use of non-biologic and biologic DMARDs in RA address 5 key areas pre-specified by the ACR: indications for use, monitoring for side-effects, assessing the clinical response, screening for tuberculosis (a risk factor linked to biologic DMARDs), and under certain circumstances (i.e. high disease activity) the roles of cost and patient preference in choosing biologic agents. When developing these recommendations, RA disease duration, disease severity, and prognostic features were also considered.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 19, 2008, 6:41 PM CT

Cause of lupus

Cause of lupus
Scientists at Wake Forest University have uncovered evidence that the abnormal editing of gene messages in a type of white blood cell may be behind the development of lupus. Researchers hope the finding will lead to earlier diagnosis, a way to monitor patients response to treatment and possibly a new way to treat the disease.

The findings, reported online in the journal Immunology, involve an enzyme that edits and modifies the messages of genes before the protein-making process. It is protein molecules that carry out the instructions of our genes and determine how an organism looks, how well its body metabolizes food or fights infection, and even how it behaves.

Dama Laxminarayana, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author, said that in systemic lupus erythematosus, the normal editing process goes awry, causing a shift in the balance of proteins that results in impaired functions in T cells, a type of white blood cell involved in the regulation of immune functions.

Impaired T cell function is a hallmark of lupus, a complex chronic autoimmune disorder that can range from a non-malignant skin disorder to severe, life-threatening multisystem disease. It primarily affects women in the child-bearing years and is more common in blacks.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


May 12, 2008, 9:45 PM CT

Women who breastfeed for more than a year

Women who breastfeed for more than a year
Women who breast feed for longer have a smaller chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis, suggests a study published online ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study also observed that taking oral contraceptives, which are suspected to protect against the disease because they contain hormones that are raised in pregnancy, did not have the same effect. Also, simply having children and not breast feeding also did not seem to be protective.

The scientists compared 136 women with rheumatoid arthritis with 544 women of a similar age without the disease. They observed that that those who had breast fed for longer were much less likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.

Women who had breastfed for 13 months or more were half as likely to get rheumatoid arthritis as those who had never breast fed. Those who had breast fed for one to 12 months were 25 per cent less likely to get the disease.

The proportion of women breast feeding for more than six months has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The authors concluded that it was difficult to say whether there was a correlation between higher rates of breast feeding and a corresponding fall in the number of women affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but that the results of the study provided yet another reason why women should continue breast feeding.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 8, 2008, 10:01 PM CT

Back pain may be in your genes

Back pain may be in your genes
What do you learn by looking at the spines of hundreds of Finnish twins? If you are the international team of scientists behind the Twin Spine Study, you find compelling proof that back pain problems may be more a matter of genetics than physical strain.

The findings of the Twin Spine Study, an ongoing research program started in 1991, have led to a dramatic paradigm shift in the way disc degeneration is understood. Last month a paper presenting an overview of the Twin Spine Studys multidisciplinary investigation into the root causes of disc degeneration received a Kappa Delta Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, arguably the most prestigious annual award in musculoskeletal research.

In the past, the factors most usually suspected of accelerating degenerative changes in the discs were various occupational physical loading conditions, such as handling of heavy materials, postural loading and vehicular vibration, said lead researcher Michele Crites-Batti of the University of Albertas Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Drawing on information from 600 participants in the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort147 pairs of identical and 153 pairs of fraternal male twinsthe Twin Spine Study has turned the dominant injury model approach to disc degeneration on its head. Scientists from Canada, Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom compared identical twin siblings who differed greatly in their exposure to a suspected risk factor for back problems; for example, one of the twins had a sedentary job while the other had heavy occupational physical demands, or one routinely engaged in occupational driving while the other did not. The studies yielded startling results, suggesting that genetics play a much larger role in disc degeneration than previously thought.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:57 PM CT

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies
A gluten-free vegan diet may improve the health of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, as per new research from Karolinska Institutet. The diet has a beneficial effect on several risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and cardiovascular diseases. The underlying causes are unknown, but scientists suspect that the disturbed balance of blood fats seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be part of the explanation.

A research team at Karolinska Institutet has shown in a new study that a gluten-free vegan diet has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The effect was seen when a group of patients who kept to a gluten-free vegan diet for a year were compared with a control group which had followed ordinary dietary advice.

Vegan food had a positive effect on symptoms of the disease, which were more pronounced in the control group. Blood levels of oxidised LDL-cholesterol, a risk factor for atherosclerosis, were also lower in the group which kept to the vegan diet. The vegan group also had higher levels of anti-PC, a type of antibody that the scientists believe has a protective effect against atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 16, 2008, 9:20 PM CT

new light on inflammatory diseases

new light on inflammatory diseases
Investigators at Hospital for Special Surgery have identified a new mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanism may also shed some light on why gene treatment experiments that use adenoviruses to deliver genes to humans have run into problems. The study will appear online on March 16 in the journal Nature Immunology.

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is known to play a role in several important inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. While much is known about early signaling pathways activated by TNF, little is known about delayed and chronic TNF responses. In addition, cells called macrophages produce TNF, but little is known about the effects of TNF on the macrophages themselves.

In studies using human blood cells and mice, researchers examined the responses of macrophages during a two-day period after being stimulated with TNF. They observed that macrophages secreted TNF and that then the TNF activated surface receptors on the macrophages themselves, spurring the cells into a low and sustained production of a protein called interferon-beta. This protein acted synergistically with TNF signals to induce 1) sustained expression of genes encoding inflammatory molecules and 2) delayed expression of genes encoding interferon-response molecules.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
A recently identified path of inflammation once thought to be wholly independent of other inflammatory systems has now been linked to another major pathway. The findings by neuroresearchers at Johns Hopkins are likely to point researchers to novel drugs that significantly reduce the risks of taking COX-2 inhibitor pain relievers, the researchers report.

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