A controlled study by a group of German investigators published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics indicates that brief group psychotherapy is helpful for clearing fears of disease progression (FoP) in patients with chronic arthritis or cancer. The interventions comprised either cognitive-behavioral group therapy or supportive-experiential group therapy. The investigators tested whether these generic interventions would prove effective in different illness types. Chronic arthritis in- patients (n = 174) and cancer in-patients (n = 174), respectively, were randomized to receive one of the two interventions. The patients provided data before intervention, at discharge, and at 3 and 12 months of follow-up.
As the U.S. population ages, manufacturers of consumer goods are realizing that many customers may not be as nimble-fingered or sharp-sighted as they once were. To help product designers and engineers address those changing requirements, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have been developing evaluation methods and design techniques to identify and address the needs of all consumers, including those with functional limitations. GTRI's latest product is a pair of arthritis simulation gloves, which reproduce the reduction in functional capacity experienced by persons with arthritis. The gloves help those responsible for consumer products better understand how arthritis affects a person's ability to grasp, pinch, turn, lift and twist objects.
Northwestern University researchers are the first to design a bioactive nanomaterial that promotes the growth of new cartilage in vivo and without the use of expensive growth factors. Minimally invasive, the therapy activates the bone marrow stem cells and produces natural cartilage. No conventional therapy can do this. The results will be published online the week of Feb. 1 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "Unlike bone, cartilage does not grow back, and therefore clinical strategies to regenerate this tissue are of great interest, " said Samuel I. Stupp, senior author, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine, and director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine.
Levels of inflammatory proteins, so-called cytokines, are elevated in the blood even before the onset of arthritic rheumatism. This means that such blood samples could be used to predict the development of the disease and thereby make it possible to prevent the pathological process, according to an article by Umea researcher Solbritt Rantapaa Dahlqvist and her associates in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. The research team analyzed blood samples from 86 individuals who donated samples to the Medical Biobank before they developed arthritic rheumatism. Of these, 69 had submitted samples at the time they were developing the disease. Moreover, blood samples were analyzed from 256 population-based matched controls from the Medical Biobank.
AMA Vice President and Chair of the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that RHDAustralia is an important first step towards eradicating rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous people. The Government has provided RHDAustralia with $2.5 million over four years to combat rheumatic heart disease, which is a major killer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. "For several years, the AMA has been calling for a coordinated national effort to eradicate rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous people, " Dr Hambleton said. "Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease can be prevented if the right screening, management and notification processes - and follow up - are put in place.
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, according to Laurence et al.Â 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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xiaflex (collagenase clostridium histolyticum) as the first drug to treat a progressive hand disease known as Dupuytren's contracture, which can affect a person's ability to straighten and properly use their fingers. Dupuytren's contracture affects the connective tissue found beneath the skin in the palm of the hand. Too much collagen can build up, forming thick, rope-like cords of tissue that can prevent the fingers from being able to relax and straighten normally. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and in men over age 50. Xiaflex is a biologic drug made from the protein product of a living organism.
University of Queensland researchers have been part of a major breakthrough in understanding the cause of the debilitating arthritic condition ankylosing spondylitis (AS). The research, led by Professor Matt Brown from UQ's Diamantina Institute for Cancer Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, has identified susceptibility genes for AS, which is a type of inflammatory arthritis that targets the joints of the spine. "The identification of these AS genes extends our understanding of this disorder and provides an important foundation for future research into this common and debilitating condition, " Professor Brown said. "Through similar work done in the past, we have identified two potential therapeutic targets and one of them is about to have trials in response to in Europe.
In the new Swedish-Finnish study, published in Nature Genetics, the researchers identified five loci that predispose to an SLE-related disease in Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. The study indicates that the homogeneity of strong genetic risk factors within dog breeds make dogs an excellent model in which to identify pathways involved in human complex diseases. The results of the study also open the door for further studies of specific T-cell activation pathways in human populations. The unique canine breed structure makes dogs an excellent model for studying genetic diseases. Incidences of specific diseases are elevated in different breeds, indicating that a few genetic risk factors might have accumulated through drift or selective breeding.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Halted: Researcher Invents Nontoxic Drug That Forces Hyperactive Immune Cells To Die
A researcher from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has invented a novel way to halt and even reverse rheumatoid arthritis. He developed an imitation of a suicide molecule that floats undetected into overactive immune cells responsible for the disease. Whimsically referred to as Casper the Ghost, the stealthy molecule causes the immune cells to self-destruct. The approach, tested on mice, doesn't carry the health risks of current treatments. "This new therapy stopped the disease cold in 75 percent of the mice, " reported Harris Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg. "The best part was we didn't see any toxicity.