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Juvenile Arthritis – Pathways To A Cure

By January 24, 2011 - 8:44pm

Research holds the key to tomorrow’s advances in preventing, controlling and curing arthritis and provides hope for a future free from arthritis for the 46 million Americans, including an estimated 300,000 children, with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation’s research program includes studies relevant to all forms of arthritis, including studies that focus on juvenile arthritis (JA).

The Inspiration
Bryanna Murray of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., developed pediatric lupus at the age of 9. At 13, she had her artwork selected as the cover image for the 2007 Arthritis Foundation Arthritis Walk Calendar. The calendar promotes the Arthritis Walk, the Foundation’s premier event to raise arthritis awareness and funds for research. Bryanna says that by getting more people out to Arthritis Walks, more money can be raised to help fund important research that one day might yield a cure. That’s why she plans on fund-raising at her school for next year’s Walk – she’s hoping for a cure.

The Facts
● Juvenile arthritis is a general term for arthritis and related con- ditions that occur by age 16. JA can begin as early as infancy and typically extends throughout childhood and even into adulthood.
● Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, is the most common form of JA. It is characterized by chronic and destructive inflammation of joints and organs, including the eyes, heart lining and lymph nodes.
● Children with JA can have daily pain, spiking fevers and over- whelming fatigue. If not well-treated, the disease can result in joint deformity, stunted growth and, sometimes, death.
● A child’s lifestyle and self-esteem can be profoundly impacted when such common activities as dressing, grooming, playing sports and even walking are limited.
● Therapies approved for use in children are limited, and up to 20 percent of children do not respond to any of the available medications.
● Many children and their families have to travel for hours to receive specialty care because only approximately 200 pediatric rheumatologists practice in the U.S.

The Goals
● To increase the number of children who participate in studies so that more therapies can be approved for use in children.
● To identify factors or markers that predict more severe dis- ease to help guide treatment strategies that balance risks and benefits.
● To increase our understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that trigger JA development.
● To identify how immune cells and inflammatory molecules contribute to joint damage and to test new therapies that block those molecules.
● To evaluate interventions to help children and their families cope with the challenges associated with JA and improve quality of life for all family members.
● To identify and develop strategies to combat complications that come with JA and the medications used to treat it.
● To provide data needed to improve treatment options and access to care for children with JA.

The Progress
In 2006, more than 20 Arthritis Foundation-funded researchers identified their projects as being directly related to juvenile arthritis. In addition, many other projects related to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. are also relevant to the juvenile forms of those diseases. In total, the Foundation has supported JA- focused research through grants totaling $1.5 million in 2006. If the money earmarked for the adult forms of these diseases is included, the grand total would be approximately $10 million.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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