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January 28, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Using computers while suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis

Using computers while suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis
A recent study by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh observed that workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were comparable to non-impaired individuals in keyboarding speed. Individuals who were trained in touch typing demonstrated faster typing speeds than those using a visually-guided ("hunt and peck") method, regardless of impairment. Scientists also noted slightly impaired mouse skills in workers with RA. Results of this study appear in the recent issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.

As per the U.S. Census Bureau the number of workers using computers increased from 46% in 1993 to 56% in 2003 with figures expected to continue climbing higher. For workers with RA the capacity to use computers appears to be limited by impairment in hand range of motion (ROM) and strength caused by inflammation of their joints due to the disease. Previous studies have shown that workers with RA have higher rates of work disability, premature work cessation, and reduced hours on the job.

"With more arthritic workers using computers, understanding the associations between hand function impairment and peripheral device (keyboard and mouse) limitations is essential and the focus of our current study," said main author Nancy Baker, Sc.D., MPH, OTR/L. Scientists recruited 45 participants from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Arthritis Network Registry for the study. Those subjects enrolled had an average age of 55, were primarily white females, and had RA for 17 years. Half of all participants worked full or part-time, with 100% of this group using computers at work.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 25, 2010, 8:20 AM CT

Cartilage repair can improve life

Cartilage repair can improve life
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the ten most disabling diseases in the developed world and is set to become more of a financial burden on health services as average life expectancy increases.

OA is the most common form of arthritis, affecting nearly 27 million Americans or 12.1% of the adult population of the United States, as per Laurence et al. A 2001 study showed that the disease costs US health services about $89.1 billion,2 and indirect costs relating to wages and productivity losses and unplanned home care averaged $4603 per person.3.

In a review for F1000 Medicine Reports, Yves Henrotin and Jean-Emile Dubuc examine the range of therapies currently on offer for repairing cartilaginous tissue. They also consider how recent technological developments could affect the therapy of OA in elderly populations.

The most promising therapeutic technique is Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI), which involves non-invasively removing a small sample of cartilage from a healthy site, isolating and culturing cells, then re-implanting them into the damaged area.

A recent enhancement to this method is matrix-assisted ACI (MACI) - where the cultured cells are fixed within a biomaterial before being implanted to promote a smooth integration with the existing tissues. ACI and MACI have previously been reserved for younger patients who are not severely obese (i.e. with a BMI below 35), whose cartilage defect is relatively small and where other therapies have already been tried.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 11, 2010, 7:47 AM CT

Genetic research related to ankylosing spondylitis

Genetic research related to ankylosing spondylitis
John D. Reveille, M.D., is the principal investigator of a new study on a disabling form of arthritis.

Credit: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Work done in part by scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has led to the discovery of two new genes that are implicated in ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an inflammatory and potentially disabling disease. In addition, the international research team pinpointed two areas along stretches of DNA that play an important role in regulating gene activity linked to the arthritic condition.

The findings, a critical milestone in the understanding of AS, are reported in the recent issue of Nature Genetics, a journal that emphasizes research on the genetic basis for common and complex diseases. "This helps us better understand what is driving this disease and gives us direction for new therapys and diagnostic tests," said John D. Reveille, M.D., the study's principal investigator and professor and director of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Reveille, the university's Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders, and Matthew A. Brown, M.D., professor of immunogenetics at Australia's University of Queensland, led the research by the Triple "A" Spondylitis Consortium Genetic Study (i.e. the TASC or Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium). Based on work from a genome-wide association scan, the team identified genes ANTXR2 and IL1R2 as well as two gene deserts, segments of DNA between genes on chromosomes 2 and 21 that are linked to ankylosing spondylitis. Importantly, the study also confirmed the Triple "A" Australo-Anglo-American Spondylitis Consortium's previously reported associations of genes IL23R and ERAP1, formerly known as ARTS1.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 7:17 AM CT

Tai Chi reduces osteoarthritis pain

Tai Chi reduces osteoarthritis pain
Scientists from Tufts University School of Medicine have determined that patients over 65 years of age with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who engage in regular Tai Chi exercise improve physical function and experience less pain. Tai Chi (Chuan) is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength, flexibility, and self-efficacy. Full findings of the study are reported in the recent issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

The elderly population is at most risk for developing knee OA, which results in pain, functional limitations or disabilities and a reduced quality of life. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are 4.3 million U.S. adults over age 60 diagnosed with knee OA, a common form of arthritis that causes wearing of joint cartilage. A recent CDC report further explains that half of American adults may develop symptoms of OA in at least one knee by age 85.

For this study, Chenchen Wang, M.D., M.Sc., and his colleagues recruited 40 patients from the greater Boston area with confirmed knee OA who were in otherwise good health. The mean age of participants was 65 years with a mean body mass index of 30.0 kg/m2. Patients were randomly selected and 20 were asked to participate in 60-minute Yang style Tai Chi sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage and a review of Tai Chi principles; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 7:10 AM CT

Gleevec may be helpful in sclerodema

Gleevec may be helpful in sclerodema
Investigators have identified a drug that is currently approved to treat certain types of cancer, Gleevec, that could provide the first therapy for scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease for which a therapy has remained elusive. The news will be presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology on October 18 in Philadelphia.

"There has never been a drug that has been shown to be effective for this condition. I think there is a very good chance of Gleevec becoming a real therapy for a previously untreatable disease," said Robert Spiera, M.D., an associate attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery who led the study.

For the study, researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery enrolled 30 patients with diffuse scleroderma, a widespread severe form of the disease, and gave them 400 mg of Gleevec per day. Patients were reviewed monthly for 12 months during therapy and were seen for follow-up three months after discontinuing the drug.

To measure the effectiveness of the drug, scientists used a tool known as the modified Rodnan skin score, a measure of how much skin is affected by the disease. "The skin score seems to be a very good marker of disease status and most scleroderma trials use this as an outcome measure," said Dr. Spiera, who is also an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. The researchers also measured lung function using tests for forced vital capacity (FVC), the maximum volume of air that a person can exhale after maximum inhalation, and diffusion capacity, a measurement of the lung's capacity to transfer gases. Lung disease is the main cause of mortality in scleroderma.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 29, 2009, 11:07 PM CT

Immune responses to flu vaccine

Immune responses to flu vaccine
Patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have an increased risk of infection, due to both disturbances in their immune responses and therapy with immunosuppressive drugs. Because morbidity and mortality correlation to influenza are increased in immunocompromised patients, it is recommended that patients with SLE get annual flu shots, which are safe and do not increase disease activity. Both antibody and cell-mediated responses are involved in the immune response to influenza; in SLE, antibody responses to the vaccine are diminished, but it is not known if the same effect is seen in cell-mediated responses. A newly released study was the first to examine cell-mediated responses in SLE patients previous to and following influenza vaccination. The study was reported in the recent issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis).

Led by Albert Holvast, of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, the study involved 54 patients with SLE and 54 healthy controls who received subunit flu vaccine, out of a total of 78 patients in each group. Patients were randomized 2:1 to receive a flu vaccine or serve as a nonvaccinated control. Patients and controls were followed up at 28 days and three to four months following vaccination, at which time blood was drawn.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 3, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

Surgery in patients with RA

Surgery in patients with RA
A newly released study published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reveals that one of the most common conditions caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is best treated surgically, sooner rather than later. Patients with RA frequently experience a debilitating condition known as metacarpophalangeal joint disease, which is commonly treated by replacing the knuckle joints with solid silicone joints. However, this therapy (and others like it) has spurred great disagreement between hand surgeons and rheumatologists regarding the indications, timing and perceived outcomes of the procedure; rheumatologists tend to refer late-stage patients for surgery whereas hand surgeons think that earlier intervention can yield more positive outcomes.

In the largest cohort study of its kind, scientists from Michigan, Maryland, and the United Kingdom reviewed the surgical outcomes of 70 RA patients who suffered from varying degrees of hand deformities. Following reconstruction, patients were separated into two groups based on the degree of deformity, and the outcomes of the reconstruction were assessed at 6 months and at years 1, 2 and 3. After reconstruction, both groups had positive self-reported hand outcomes and showed statistically significant improvement from baseline. However, scientists observed that the more severe group still had significant deformities - showing that the more serious the malformation, the more difficult it is to correct.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 1, 2009, 7:07 PM CT

Genes, smoking and rheumatoid arthritis

Genes, smoking and rheumatoid arthritis
Recent genetic studies have revealed several new sites of genes that are risk factors for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The strongest association with anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)-positive RA (ACPAs are autoantibodies detected in RA that are used as a major diagnostic tool) has been found for the HLA-DRB1 gene, and this site seems to play a central role in susceptibility to the disease in Caucasian populations. Prior studies have shown a high increase in the risk of ACPA-positive RA linked to smoking in those who have certain variations of the HLA-DRB1 gene. There are several types of such alleles correlation to a particular amino acid sequence known as shared epitope (SE). ACPAs occur in about 60 percent of RA patients and are closely associated with the presence of SE alleles. In fact, SE alleles are the strongest genetic risk factor for ACPA-positive RA.

Of several environmental factors that predispose people toward developing RA, smoking has been found to be the main risk factor and a strong gene-environment interaction between smoking and SE alleles for ACPA-positive patients has been shown in prior studies in Europe. Results in North America have not been as conclusive, however. A new large population-based study examined the gene-environment interaction between smoking and SE alleles in RA and observed that all SE alleles strongly interact with smoking in conferring an increased risk of ACPA-positive RA. The study was reported in the recent issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/76509746/home).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


June 1, 2009, 7:00 PM CT

Tai chi helps to improves arthritis pain

Tai chi helps to improves arthritis pain
The results of a new analysis have provided strong evidence to suggest that Tai Chi is beneficial for arthritis. Specifically, it was shown to decrease pain with trends towards improving overall physical health, level of tension and satisfaction with health status.

Musculoskeletal pain, such as that experienced by people with arthritis, places a severe burden on the patient and community and is recognized as an international health priority. Exercise treatment including such as strengthening, stretching and aerobic programs, have been shown to be effective for arthritic pain. Tai Chi, is a form of exercise that is regularly practiced in China to improve overall health and well-being. It is commonly preformed in a group but is also practiced individually at one's leisure, which differs from traditional exercise treatment approaches used in the clinic.

Recently, a newly released study examined the effectiveness of Tai Chi in decreasing pain and disability and improving physical function and quality of life in people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. The study is reported in the recent issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/77005015/home). Led by Amanda Hall of The George Institute in Sydney, Australia, scientists conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis. They analyzed seven eligible randomized controlled trials that used Tai Chi as the main intervention for patients with musculoskeletal pain. The results demonstrate that Tai Chi improves pain and disability in patients suffering arthritis.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


April 21, 2009, 5:12 AM CT

Looking to prevent kidney damage in lupus

Looking to prevent kidney damage in lupus
Kidney damage linked to the autoimmune disease lupus is associated with a malfunction of immune cells that causes them to congregate in and attack the organs, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered in a mouse study.

In a separate study with an international team, the scientists also observed that a certain set of genes appears to protect the kidneys from a different sort of immune attack in both mice and humans.

"These studies, taken together, uncover two important molecules that underlie the pathology of lupus, especially kidney disease," said Dr. Edward Wakeland, chairman of immunology at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the studies.

"In addition, they highlight a certain molecule as a potential target for treating this disease," he said.

In the first study, which appears in the recent issue of The Journal of Immunology, the scientists examined several strains of mice that mimic human lupus. They observed that immune cells in those mice overproduced a particular molecule called CXCR4. In fact, the mice had up to twice as much CXCR4 as their normal counterparts in several types of immune cells. The lupus-prone mice also had more immune-system cells in their kidneys, indicating that the inflammatory action of the immune cells might be causing the kidney damage.........

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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