OA Research Initiative

Seeking a Cure

Americans spend $128 billion on arthritis-related health care costs each year. Much of that expense goes toward the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) for the estimated 27 million Americans who battle its chronic pain, stiffness and often severely disabling effects. While most people assume OA is an inevitable part of aging, it actually is a disease that takes years to develop. Unfortunately, in most cases, by the time it is diagnosed, severe and irreversible joint damage has occurred. Sadly, existing treatment options cannot deter the progress of this debilitating epidemic. Exercise, pain medications and – in the most severe cases -- joint replacement are the only treatment options available to those with OA.

The Arthritis Foundation has a plan to change this. Our research strategic goal is to develop new interventions for OA. Through our OA Flagship Initiative – the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Intervention Initiative -- we hope to discover disease-altering therapies. It has been shown that people who suffer an ACL injury are at much greater likelihood of developing OA in the injured knee than people without an ACL tear. Using this model to study the onset and progression of the disease, the Foundation can discover therapies to stop the disease in its tracks.

The goals of the Foundation’s OA research program and the ACL Intervention Initiative include:

• Determining predictors and causes of OA;

• Utilizing existing and advanced technologies to detect OA before its effects set in;

• Identifying which individuals are at risk of developing OA;

• Discovering and implementing new therapies to halt progression of the disease; and

• Advancing research into new drug therapies.

To achieve these goals, the Arthritis Foundation has in 2012 committed $1.8 million in grants to researchers working on OA projects ranging from biomarker identification to imaging techniques that allow physicians to identify changes in cartilage of an injured joint over time. We also have committed $500,000 to larger biomarker projects and scientific meetings to advance the research. For 2013, we have committed $1 Million to the ACL Intervention Initiative.

Thanks to our OA Research Program and Flagship Initiative, researchers have identified key biomarkers and tests are being developed that physicians will one day use to determine who is at risk for developing OA. Within the next 10 years, we believe our research efforts will lead to medications that will slow or stop the progression of OA before the patient even exhibits symptoms.

How You Can Help

Unless we reverse the trend, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis by the year 2030. To slow curtail numbers and achieve our research goals, the Arthritis Foundation needs your help. To learn more about how you can give click here.