4 June 1999
Arthritis, which affects more than eight million people in the UK, could be reversed or slowed down, new research has found.
The study, funded by Action Research, found that a special protein, known as a peptide, can stimulate cartilage to repair itself. Cartilage is vital for the smooth, painless movement of joints.
As joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, lead to damaged cartilage, researchers hope that this protein will be used eventually to induce cartilage to repair itself.
The results of this research coincides with Arthritis Research Week which starts today.
Dr Michael Dean, a scientist at The Royal Veterinary College, London said: “Although these are early results, our research suggests that this growth factor, or peptide, may eventually be used clinically to slow down or reverse the development of joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis”.
Anne Luther, Director General of Action Research said: “These are important findings and we hope that this discovery will eventually ease the pain of this crippling condition”.
Dr Michael Dean has recently been awarded an additional grant by Action Research to carry out further research on the protein.
Arthritis is the most common form of physical disability in the UK, affecting millions of people of all ages and both sexes.
Arthritis means disease or damage to the joints. The main symptoms are pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints. Some people suffer only mild pain or discomfort, in others it can be crippling.
Action Research is at the forefront of research into arthritis by funding projects in London, Oxford and Durham. A new study is about to get underway in Oxford which hopes to develop new treatments for bone destruction - a crippling complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
Other work includes the development of a new finger joint and an investigation of new surface coatings for a wide range of artificial joints to improve implant technology. This work should help future generations of young patients who need new joints.
The charity also produces a booklet “The Hip Operation” - a reassuring and informative guide for the thousands of patients a year who require the operation. It aims to address many of the questions asked about the procedure from first diagnosis to surgery and after-care. Many hip replacements are needed by people who suffer from arthritis.
The guide is available by sending a cheque for £2.50 payable to Action Research to: Hip Leaflet, Vincent House, Horsham RH12 2DP. (Allow up to 28 days for delivery).
For further information contact Mike Deyes in the Action Research press office on 01403 327429 or 07979 590913.