07 Dec New Drug Might REVERSE Degenerative Arthritis
Do you ever feel that nagging pain in your knee or back might never go away? You might think that aches and pains are just part of growing older but what causes this? Degenerative arthritis, referred to medically as osteoarthritis (osteo meaning bone), is the commonest joint disorder in the United States of America. Around 10% of mean and around 13% of woman over 60 years of age suffer from the disease and it causes significant pain. With the current crackdown on the perceived overprescription of opioids drugs across the United States, now more than ever new treatments are needed to relieve pain and renew patients confidence in themselves. But a new treatment could provide the answer by not just stopping the symptoms of degenerative arthritis but reversing degenerative arthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
If you are over 50, you might have been told by your doctor that the pain in your knee is caused by “wear and tear”. This is how many refer to degenerative arthritis. The joints in your body are lined with something known as hyaline cartilage. This cartilage is found at the end of each bone in the joint and stops bone on bone rubbing (which would be damaging and incredibly painful!) and absorbs shocks from running and jumping etc. In osteoarthritis, this cartilage is worn down to the point where they are none. Rubbing can then occur between bones which results in the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- A grating/crackling sound when moving the joint
- A “knobbly” appearance to the joint
- Limited range of movement in the joint
Could a new drug reverse the process?
As reported in MedPageToday, a new drug known as FGF-18 is currently undergoing clinical trials and shows some benefits. As mentioned before, osteoarthritis causes the loss of the cartilage. This drug works to prevent and reverse that loss. Patients on the drug regrow cartilage by around 0.015mm/year. In patients who didn’t receive the drug cartilage was LOST at a rate of 0.01mm/year. This reversal during phase two clinical trials is promising and the drug’s developer says so himself. Talking to PrNewsWire.com Luciano Rossetti said
“We are highly encouraged by the result of the FORWARD trial, in which [FGF-18] showed an increase in cartilage thickness in patients with osteoarthritis”
However the trial failed to show any symptom benefits in patients and further, longer term, phase III trials will be needed to identify any clinical benefit of the drug.
What treatments are available now?
Whilst this is promising news it will seem like a long way off to the millions of Americans suffering from degenerative arthritis today. For these patients, their family doctors typically can’t relieve the pain and they may need to seek out specialist centers where more serious treatments than simple over the counter NSAIDs like Ibuprofen can be given. These include:
- Steroid injections – Injections into the joint can reduce inflammation and therefore pain
- PRP stem cell injections – Platelets from the patient’s own blood are injected into the joint and stimulate growth of the cartilage
- Surgery – the joint can be completely replaced if the pain is intractable.