January 2016

Arthritis – A Potential Cure

Morning stiffness, aching knees, swollen joints – symptoms commonly experienced by the elderly are becoming increasingly common among younger and younger generations. There has been little mainstream evidence of any cure for arthritis; anti-inflammatory medications, healthy diets, and physical therapy are known to help manage the symptoms, but an all-out cure has remained a farfetched idea.

However, a preliminary trial conducted by professor Frank Barry at the National University of Ireland in Galway this past August provided some very positive results, and offered a glimmer of hope in finding a cure.

 

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The trial, which involved 18 individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, was conducted at the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Galway University. The sufferers had their knees injected with a single culture of stem cells derived from their own fat cells. All 18 of the participants noticed a significant reduction in inflammation and pain at the knee joint within days of receiving the treatment. Adipose derived stem cells, or stem cells cultured from the fat cells of a patient, are known to have anti-inflammatory properties;

 

“In preclinical testing, a single dose of fat stem cells injected into animals with osteoarthritis suppressed inflammation that causes cartilage destruction and damage to the ligaments holding the joints together. Clinical trials testing whether the same holds true for human joints with osteoarthritis are underway.”

                                                                        (- Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.)

           

Due to health regulations of Health Canada and the U.S Food and Drug Administration, there are no approved applications for stem cell therapy in humans. Clinical trials are limited, and research into its effectiveness is met with absolute scrutiny.

 

Enter Frank Barry, a well-known supporter of stem cell therapy and committed to furthering research into its effectiveness. Prior to conducting the trial, the professor published this article on the potential effectiveness of stem cell therapy in treating different forms of arthritis. The initial trial, set to back-up the information offered in the article, proved to be so successful, he is now planning to do a larger experiment this year, with over 150 participants from all over Europe.

 

Arthritis is a blanket term for diseases which cause painful stiffness and swelling of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, a degenerative joint disease characterized by pain and tenderness found in the joints caused by the breakdown of cartilage. It is believed that approximately 350 million people worldwide suffer from osteoarthritis, with over half diagnosed below the age of 65.

Currently there are no drugs which alter the progression of any form of arthritis. Pain and anti-inflammatory medication are often prescribed to help quell the suffering, as well as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory diets to manage the symptoms. In severe cases, total joint replacement surgery is sought after, with an often long and difficult post-op rehabilitation.

 

Although only an initial trial, the results were undeniably positive, and resulted in the funding of large scale research set to conclude by the end of this year. Barry is set to publish his findings once the research has ended and needless to say, we are anxiously awaiting the results.

 

Sources:

 

National University of Ireland in Galway

Web MD

Medicine Net

EuroStemCell