Health and Fitness

Group Psychotherapy May Improve Fears In Patients With Cancer Or Chronic Arthritis

A controlled study by a group of German investigators published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics indicates that brief group psychotherapy is helpful for clearing fears of disease progression (FoP) in patients with chronic arthritis or cancer. The interventions comprised either cognitive-behavioral group therapy or supportive-experiential group therapy. The investigators tested whether these generic interventions would prove effective in different illness types. Chronic arthritis in- patients (n = 174) and cancer in-patients (n = 174), respectively, were randomized to receive one of the two interventions. The patients provided data before intervention, at discharge, and at 3 and 12 months of follow-up. FoP was the primary outcome, secondary outcomes were anxiety, depression and quality of life. A treatment-as-usual control group provided data on the primary outcome. Patients with chronic arthritis indicated higher levels of FoP than cancer patients. The results revealed that, compared with no specialized intervention, both group therapies were effective in reducing dysfunctional FoP, but only among cancer patients.

Designing Easy-To-Use Products With The Help Of Arthritis Simulation Gloves

As the U.S. population ages, manufacturers of consumer goods are realizing that many customers may not be as nimble-fingered or sharp-sighted as they once were. To help product designers and engineers address those changing requirements, researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have been developing evaluation methods and design techniques to identify and address the needs of all consumers, including those with functional limitations. GTRI's latest product is a pair of arthritis simulation gloves, which reproduce the reduction in functional capacity experienced by persons with arthritis. The gloves help those responsible for consumer products better understand how arthritis affects a person's ability to grasp, pinch, turn, lift and twist objects. "A product manager or designer can put these gloves on and attempt to open their company's products or packaging, " explained GTRI principal research scientist Brad Fain. "If they are unable to open a product or package, then chances are high that people with moderate to severe symptoms of arthritis will also have difficulty opening it.

New Nanoscopic Material Enables Cartilage To Do What It Doesn't Do Naturally

Northwestern University researchers are the first to design a bioactive nanomaterial that promotes the growth of new cartilage in vivo and without the use of expensive growth factors. Minimally invasive, the therapy activates the bone marrow stem cells and produces natural cartilage. No conventional therapy can do this. The results will be published online the week of Feb. 1 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "Unlike bone, cartilage does not grow back, and therefore clinical strategies to regenerate this tissue are of great interest, " said Samuel I. Stupp, senior author, Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, and Medicine, and director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. Countless people - amateur athletes, professional athletes and people whose joints have just worn out -- learn this all too well when they bring their bad knees, shoulders and elbows to an orthopaedic surgeon. Damaged cartilage can lead to joint pain and loss of physical function and eventually to osteoarthritis, a disorder with an estimated economic impact approaching $65 billion in the United States.

Can Blood Samples Predict Arthritic Rheumatism?

Levels of inflammatory proteins, so-called cytokines, are elevated in the blood even before the onset of arthritic rheumatism. This means that such blood samples could be used to predict the development of the disease and thereby make it possible to prevent the pathological process, according to an article by Umea researcher Solbritt Rantapaa Dahlqvist and her associates in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. The research team analyzed blood samples from 86 individuals who donated samples to the Medical Biobank before they developed arthritic rheumatism. Of these, 69 had submitted samples at the time they were developing the disease. Moreover, blood samples were analyzed from 256 population-based matched controls from the Medical Biobank. The concentrations of 30 different cytokines and cytokine-related factors in plasma were measured using a so-called multiplex system. The results show that individuals that later developed arthritic rheumatism had significantly elevated levels of most cytokines and that these cytokine patterns distinguished them from the control individuals.

AMA Welcomes New Body To Combat Rheumatic Heart Disease, Australia

AMA Vice President and Chair of the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that RHDAustralia is an important first step towards eradicating rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous people. The Government has provided RHDAustralia with $2.5 million over four years to combat rheumatic heart disease, which is a major killer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. "For several years, the AMA has been calling for a coordinated national effort to eradicate rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous people, " Dr Hambleton said. "Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease can be prevented if the right screening, management and notification processes - and follow up - are put in place. "Now that this initiative has commenced with RHDAustralia, we would like the Government to continue to build on the momentum by implementing the $11.2 million Rheumatic Fever Strategy that was promised prior to the 2007 election. "The AMA believes it is essential that RHDAustralia keeps all the relevant stakeholders involved and informed, especially when it comes to the development of a national register and refinement of best practice guidelines.

Cartilage Repair Can Improve Life, Ease Burden On Health Services

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the ten most disabling diseases in the developed world and is set to become more of a financial burden on health services as average life expectancy increases. OA is the most common form of arthritis, affecting nearly 27 million Americans or 12.1% of the adult population of the United States, according to Laurence et al.В A 2001 study showed that the disease costs US health services about $89.1 billion, 2 and indirect costs relating to wages and productivity losses and unplanned home care averaged $4603 per person.3 In a review for F1000 Medicine Reports, Yves Henrotin and Jean-Emile Dubuc examine the range of therapies currently on offer for repairing cartilaginous tissue. They also consider how recent technological developments could affect the treatment of OA in elderly populations. The most promising therapeutic technique is Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI), which involves non-invasively removing a small sample of cartilage from a healthy site, isolating and culturing cells, then re-implanting them into the damaged area.

FDA Approves Xiaflex For Debilitating Hand Condition

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xiaflex (collagenase clostridium histolyticum) as the first drug to treat a progressive hand disease known as Dupuytren's contracture, which can affect a person's ability to straighten and properly use their fingers. Dupuytren's contracture affects the connective tissue found beneath the skin in the palm of the hand. Too much collagen can build up, forming thick, rope-like cords of tissue that can prevent the fingers from being able to relax and straighten normally. The disorder is most common in Caucasians and in men over age 50. Xiaflex is a biologic drug made from the protein product of a living organism. It works by breaking down the excessive buildup of collagen in the hand. "Before the FDA approved Xiaflex, the only effective treatment for this hand disorder was surgery, which sometimes meant a long recovery and the need for physical therapy for patients. Since there are no other non-surgical alternatives for Dupuytren's contracture, Xiaflex will be an important advance in the management of this disabling condition, " said Bob Rappaport, M.

Arthritis Genes Discovered By University Of Queensland Scientists, Australia

University of Queensland researchers have been part of a major breakthrough in understanding the cause of the debilitating arthritic condition ankylosing spondylitis (AS). The research, led by Professor Matt Brown from UQ's Diamantina Institute for Cancer Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, has identified susceptibility genes for AS, which is a type of inflammatory arthritis that targets the joints of the spine. "The identification of these AS genes extends our understanding of this disorder and provides an important foundation for future research into this common and debilitating condition, " Professor Brown said. "Through similar work done in the past, we have identified two potential therapeutic targets and one of them is about to have trials in response to in Europe." He said his lab was the lead genetics centre of the international consortium which performed the study. Other main participants included Professor John Reveille's team from the University of Texas (Houston) and Professor Paul Wordsworth's team form the University of Oxford.

Dogs May Provide An Excellent Model For Understanding Human Complex Diseases

In the new Swedish-Finnish study, published in Nature Genetics, the researchers identified five loci that predispose to an SLE-related disease in Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. The study indicates that the homogeneity of strong genetic risk factors within dog breeds make dogs an excellent model in which to identify pathways involved in human complex diseases. The results of the study also open the door for further studies of specific T-cell activation pathways in human populations. The unique canine breed structure makes dogs an excellent model for studying genetic diseases. Incidences of specific diseases are elevated in different breeds, indicating that a few genetic risk factors might have accumulated through drift or selective breeding. In the new Swedish-Finnish study with 81 affected dogs and 57 controls from the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever breed the researchers identified five loci associated with a canine systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) -related disease complex.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Halted: Researcher Invents Nontoxic Drug That Forces Hyperactive Immune Cells To Die

A researcher from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has invented a novel way to halt and even reverse rheumatoid arthritis. He developed an imitation of a suicide molecule that floats undetected into overactive immune cells responsible for the disease. Whimsically referred to as Casper the Ghost, the stealthy molecule causes the immune cells to self-destruct. The approach, tested on mice, doesn't carry the health risks of current treatments. "This new therapy stopped the disease cold in 75 percent of the mice, " reported Harris Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg. "The best part was we didn't see any toxicity. This has a lot of potential for creating an entirely new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis." The study will be published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism. Healthy immune cells are supposed to die after they attack an invading virus or bacteria. But in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune cells called macrophages live and go rogue.

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