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New Research Shows Promise for Finding A Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Date:9/3/2008

The American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation's

Within Our Reach Campaign Yields Significant Advances in Detecting,

Treating and Understanding RA

ATLANTA, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time during its unprecedented initiative to find a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation is releasing new information acquired from research funded by the Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign.

Doctors and scientists from across the nation are utilizing more than $12 million in grants awarded by the ACR REF to investigate critical issues including early detection of RA, novel treatment pathways as well as improved patient-provider interaction and patient care. While research is still underway, the REF is encouraged by the progress made thus far and is pleased to announce the new and promising knowledge which RA researchers will continue to build upon as studies continue.

"The REF is committed to funding RA research that is not being done elsewhere, and supporting scientists and doctors who are most prepared and motivated to work on finding a cure," said Dr. Leslie J. Crofford, president of the REF. "The quality and value of the studies in progress is evidence that the Within Our Reach campaign to is critical and must continue."

Viewed as one of the most disabling types of arthritis, RA affects nearly 1.3 million Americans. But, because of rapidly advancing research into the fundamentals of inflammation, the outlook for those suffering from RA has improved dramatically over the past 25 years. Recent advances in treatment have made it possible to stop, or at least slow the progression of joint damage. Additionally, new therapies that target inflammation are being developed.

Today the Within our Reach campaign is supporting 30 innovative research studies and highlights of new information gained from select studies include the following:

New Treatment Pathways

A study led by Dr. Gary S. Firestein at the University of California

School of Medicine, San Diego focuses on how the central nervous system

can control inflammation in RA. The group identified a new pathway that

allows the spinal cord and brain to decrease joint inflammation and joint

destruction. Now that this pathway is identified, new therapies can be

developed to utilize it and mimic the anti-inflammatory effects of the

central nervous system.

Early Detection of RA

Successful management of RA requires early medical intervention and a new

study led by Dr. Antony Rosen at the Johns Hopkins University School of

Medicine seeks to identify specific pathways that drive RA development and

generate tissue damage. Dr. Rosen and his team of researchers are working

to define new blood tests to help rheumatologists diagnose RA in its early

stages, which will improve their ability to predict which patients will

develop worse joint destruction, and potentially provide the tools to

monitor disease activity and prevent early RA from amplifying.

Health Literacy and Patient-Physician Interaction

Dr. Edward Yelin and Dr. Jennifer Barton of the University of California,

San Francisco are leading the most systematic attempt to understand the

role that patient-physician communication and health literacy play in

understanding disparities in RA treatment and healthcare outcomes for

different patient populations. This study compares standard measures of

disease activity such as degree of joint damage, with assessments of

socioeconomic status such as income, education level and employment

status, race/ethnicity of the patient and the language spoken at home to

explain disparities in care and treatment of RA.

About Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects an estimated 1.3 million Americans, yet funding to find new treatments and ultimately a cure remains significantly low compared to other autoimmune diseases. To address the critical need for additional funding and research support, the REF launched Within Our Reach in November 2006.

Within Our Reach is the largest private fundraising campaign in the REF's history. It will tap a diverse donor base, and raise $30 million to accelerate the innovative research necessary to find a cure for RA. The campaign has received tremendous support from the pharmaceutical industry, biotech companies, physicians and patients, raising more than $18 million to date.

"The Within Our Reach campaign is designed to accelerate research to better understand and ultimately find a cure for RA," said Dr. Crofford. "The information gleaned from the research grants underway has provided solid information for researchers to build upon as the campaign continues."

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis and the campaign, please visit http://www.WithinOurReach.info .

About ACR Research and Education Foundation

The ACR Research and Education Foundation was established in 1985 as a 501(c)(3) with a mission to improve patients' lives through support of research and training that advances the prevention, treatment and cure of rheumatic diseases. Since its founding, the REF has promoted and advanced the field of rheumatology by funding research, training and education opportunities for clinicians, students, health professionals, researchers and academic institutions. On average, 90 cents of every dollar donated to the REF is used to fund its extensive award and grant program.

Contact: Lucy McDonald

Brand Resources Group, Inc.

703-739-8343


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SOURCE ACR Research and Education Foundation
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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