Research Update - January 2007

From the Chair, Research Advisory Council, Philip L. Cohen, MD

Another new year – time to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead. For this issue of Research Update, we are reflecting on the top 10 arthritis advances of 2006. To develop its fourth annual list of the top 10 arthritis advances, the Arthritis Foundation sought input from clinicians with expertise in various forms of arthritis, scientists from a wide variety of research disciplines, and organizations with an interest in arthritis and related diseases. Nominations of more than 25 items were received from these experts, and then Jack Klippel, MD, Arthritis Foundation President and CEO, and John Hardin, MD, Arthritis Foundation Chief Science Officer, narrowed the field down to the selected 10.

Not all of the “advances” were positive, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important and that they don’t advance the science and art of medicine. We learned this year, for example, that the popular combination of glucosamine and chondroitin relieves osteoarthritis pain no better than placebo. That is important information for physicians, researchers, and the public at large. We also were faced with the reality that children with juvenile arthritis who achieve clinical remission have a very good chance of experiencing a relapse. This information solidifies in our researchers the need for them to develop newer, better treatments.

In reviewing the top 10 advances and reading the research articles on which they are based, I saw many familiar names. I’m proud to say that several of the research teams included scientists previously funded by the Arthritis Foundation. Two such past awardees are Daniel J. Lovell, MD, MPH, who was the lead scientist on a study of abatacept in juvenile arthritis (advance number 3 “Effectiveness of Biologics in Arthritis”), and Edward H. Giannini, MSc, DrPH, who was coauthor on advance number 6 “High Rate of Relapse in Juvenile Arthritis.” Dan and Ed work together at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and have collaborated on several clinical trials. In this issue, we summarize the results of one such trial and we asked them some questions about their work and their lives more than a decade after receiving their first Arthritis Foundation grants.

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