Tag Archives: arthritis researchers

dr christian lattermann

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Christian Lattermann

Osteoarthritis Center of Excellence Research Story

Over the last month, we’ve kept you updated on the work being done by the researchers in our osteoarthritis (OA) center of excellence (OA COE). The COE is currently funding three Clinical Trial Network demonstration studies that may lead to better diagnosis and earlier treatments for arthritis. Researchers from six different institutions will collaborate in various aspects of these cutting-edge studies. This is the last in a series of three blogs describing these studies.

Most people with partial or complete rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) develop post traumatic OA (PTOA) within 10 to 20 years after their injury. Unfortunately, current ACL injury treatment options (both surgical and non-surgical) are successful in the short-term but do little or nothing to reduce the risk of developing PTOA later.

All three of the current OA COE are demonstration projects that build on knowledge gained from earlier foundation-funded ACL and PTOA research.

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dr virginia byers kraus osteoarthritis research

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus

Osteoarthritis Center of Excellence Research Story

Our osteoarthritis (OA) center of excellence (COE) is currently funding three Clinical Trial Network demonstration studies that may lead to better diagnosis and earlier treatments for OA. Researchers from six different institutions will collaborate in various aspects of these cutting-edge studies. The three studies are connected to one another for a common purpose and they build on previous research funded by the Arthritis Foundation. This is the second in a series of three blogs describing these studies. Read the first one here.

Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus is working to identify biochemical biomarkers found in synovial (joint) fluid and urine from post-traumatic OA patients who have suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. The samples used for this study come from samples collected from a 2013 Arthritis Foundation-funded project that validated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to measure the molecular changes that begin to occur in joints immediately after an ACL tear.

Urine and synovial fluid (from damaged knee joints) were collected from patients at five timepoints: baseline (less than 4 weeks after the joint injury), during surgery (about 6 weeks after the injury), 6 weeks after surgery, 6 months after surgery, and 1 year after surgery. The analysis of the 177 urine samples and 101 synovial fluid samples will take about 6 months.

The goal of this project is to evaluate which biochemical markers are connected to inflammation and cartilage breakdown following ACL rupture. The team is working to identify which biomarkers are most critical for predicting risk of OA after injury and to confirm the earliest and best timepoints to start treatments.

“With heart attacks, we treat immediately for best results,” explained Dr. Kraus. “We’re hoping to show that the same is true for joint injuries. What is important is the time from the injury to medical intervention. We must treat early to prevent further damage. What we currently see is that about half of the patients who have surgery for an ACL tear eventually develop more serious disease.”

By identifying biomarkers that appear early following an injury and by using more sensitive MRI imaging techniques, researchers hope to identify the individuals at highest risk for more serious joint disease and to determine the “window of opportunity” for providing treatment to prevent subsequent OA. Earlier interventions might include new drugs designed to halt the disease process and other anti-inflammatory drugs, thus reducing the need for joint replacements later and improving the quality of life.

Dr. Kraus was inspired to study OA by her father. Her father, a surgeon during the Vietnam War, damaged his hip and as a result endured 3 hip replacements over the rest of his life. While her father continued working into his 70’s, Dr. Kraus felt frustrated watching his daily suffering and the suffering of her clinic patients. It’s pushed her to want to make a difference and stop OA in its tracks.

“Osteoarthritis is a big and challenging beast -it’s the most prevalent disease in the world,” she explained. “It affects mobility, which in turn affects your heart and many other aspects of your health. We’ve begun to see success in understanding many types of arthritis, but up to now, we haven’t been as successful with OA. It’s so frustrating for me to see the suffering caused by this disease.”

We’re so proud to call Dr. Kraus a Champion of Yes.  She explained why she likes to submit her research projects to us: “The Arthritis Foundation has stayed the course in maintaining prolonged interest in finding a cure. It has worked at building on prior innovative research – it’s hard to get funding for these types of studies. The Foundation has created a nimble mechanism for doing this type of research and moving it forward faster. This brings us closer to finding cures for patients more quickly.”

Dr. Kraus, the principal investigator in this project, is a professor of Medicine, Pathology and Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University in Durham, NC. She will be working with other researchers from Duke University, as well as researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in NYC, and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

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spotlight on dr dougherty

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Edward Doherty

Why is my immune system attacking my joints? What is the cause? If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), this is something you have probably wondered at some point. It’s something Dr. Edward Doherty has wondered as well, and is currently studying. Dr. Doherty and his co-investigator, Dr. Pathricia Tilstam are studying key cells that drive inflammation in their 2-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “MIF/CD74 signaling as a new candidate for immunotherapy of rheumatoid arthritis”. With autoimmune disorders like RA, something triggers the immune system to malfunction and attack healthy cells, causing inflammation and disease. Dr. Doherty and Dr. Tilstam are looking for some of the triggers to help develop more effective treatments to stop progression and joint destruction.

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jordan orange

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Jordan Orange

Chances are you haven’t heard of COPA syndrome. That’s because it wasn’t identified as a form of arthritis until 2015. So, what is COPA syndrome? It is a rare, inherited autoimmune disease that is caused by mutation of the COPA gene. It usually appears in early childhood. Patients show symptoms of severe lung disease and arthritis.

Dr. Jordan Orange was one member of a large research team that first identified COPA syndrome in 2015. The team’s published work in Nature Genetics won the Arthritis Foundation’s 2015 Howley Award prize for significantly advancing the understanding of an arthritis-related disease.

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Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Nora Singer

As an organization, we have always supported and encouraged the active involvement of patients in their own care. Patient perspectives matter greatly when it comes to decisions being made about health care. Their voices are vital in the clinical research process as new medications are being developed and tested.

Patient perspectives play a large role in Dr. Nora Singer’s 3-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project – “Cell-based therapy in systemic onset JIA (sJIA) refractory to conventional “c” and biological “b” DMARDs”. Her project uses stem cells derived from adult cells that are designed to “reset” the immune system. The study will compare the safety and effectiveness of the stem cell treatment to conventional and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Currently, stem cell therapy is experimental in the U.S. and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but is less regulated in other countries.

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dr richard loeser jr - arthritis research

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Richard F. Loeser, Jr

“You are what you eat” is a phrase we often hear. But how true is it? Dr. Richard F. Loeser, Jr. and his research team are looking at the role of diet in their Arthritis Foundation-funded project “The Role of the Microbiome in Metabolic Osteoarthritis (OA)”.

Different factors play into why a person develops OA, including aging, injury, and being overweight. Diet plays an important role. What you eat can help influence what bacteria (or microbiota) live in your digestive track (gut). This, in turn, can influence what chemicals are released into your body. A healthy gut generally has a more diverse collection of helpful microbiota, while a microbial imbalance can lead to disease.

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delivering on discovery

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Hongsik Cho

Big things come in small packages, and Dr. Hongsik Cho is very familiar with this phenomenon. When we first introduced Dr. Cho in August 2016, he was beginning work on his 2-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “A Novel Method of Detecting and Treating Early PTOA Using Smart Nanosome”.  He and his team are studying two things: a new drug and a new drug delivery system.  The drug, called TPCA-1, works to prevent inflammation caused by post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA).  The drug delivery system uses small packets called nanosomes that contain TPCA-1 and a fluorescent dye that illuminates the nanosomes’ path once injected into mice.

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dr christine beeton

Researchers on the Path to a Cure – Spotlight on Dr. Christine Beeton

Venom can kill, but this research proves it could help do the opposite. More specifically, some chemicals found in venom could act as a treatment for disease. These chemicals come from a deadly reptile, but with the help of Dr. Christine Beeton, venom might be able to better the lives of multitudes of people.

Dr. Beeton and her research team are looking at the chemicals found in scorpion venom as a source of potential treatment for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

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arthritis research awardees

Arthritis Patients Help to Select Scientific Projects That Show Promise Towards Finding a Cure for Arthritis

Earlier this year, we awarded funding to six scientists for projects submitted that show remarkable innovations and steps towards finding a cure for arthritis and related diseases. For the first time, we included patient input in selecting the projects that showed the most promise and meant the most to them.

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