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Rheumatoid Arthritis – Pathways To A Cure

By January 24, 2011 - 8:34pm

Research holds the key to tomorrow’s advancesin preventing, controlling and curing arthritis and provides hope for a future free from arthritis for the 46 million men, women and children with doctor-diagnosed arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation's research program includes studies relevant to all forms of arthritis, as well as studies that focus on specific conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The Goals
• Todeveloptechniques,includingbiomarkerandimagingtests, to allow for disease diagnosis before the onset of symptoms.
• Toidentifyandminimizetherisksassociatedwithdisability andmortality.
• To promote early and aggressive treatment strategies that will limit joint damage, which often occurs within the first two years of disease.
• Toincreaseourunderstandingofthegeneticandenvironmental factors that trigger RA development.
• Toidentifyhowimmunecellsandinflammatorymolecules contribute to joint damage and to test new therapies that block those molecules.
• Toevaluateexerciseandcopinginterventionstohelppeoplewith RA reduce their pain and improve function and quality of life.
• To engineer tissue that can withstand and hold up under the harsh environment of a joint with RA.
• Toidentifyanddevelopstrategiestocombatcomplicationsthat come with RA and the medications used to treat it.

The Facts
• Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common and serious forms of arthritis.
• People with RA are two times more likely to die than people of the same age without RA in the general population.
• RA is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the lining, or synovium, of the joints.
• People with RA often experience fatigue, and may have loss of appetite and low-grade fever.
• Morning stiffness lasting for several hours is common. • RA can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in joint
deformity, chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
• RA affects 2.1 million Americans, and 2.5 times as many women as men are affected.

The Inspiration
More than 2 million people in the U.S. have had their lives forever changed by rheumatoid arthritis. The research we invest in each year can help people like Deb Ceman, of Wauwatosa, Wis., who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 24 years old. Now at age 48, she has had her shoulders, elbows, hips and knees replaced. “I am grateful for the people who work so hard doing great research every day. Without them, I wouldn’t be enjoying life or my four grandchildren as much as I do,” Ms. Ceman avows. “Thank you, arthritis researchers and the Arthritis Foundation. Keep up the great work!”

The Progress
In 2006, more than 90 Arthritis Foundation-funded researchers worked on projects related to rheumatoid arthritis. The Foundation has supported this RA-focused research through grants totaling approximately $6 million in 2006 alone. The portfolio of funded projects ranges from basic “bench” research to clinical “bedside” and behavioral studies to research in the “trenches” including epidemiology studies.

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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