Denver, CO, September 08, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- A recent study conducted by researchers at McGill University indicates that nerve-growth factor (NGF) plays a critical role in arthritis development and pain, and that reducing the levels of this protein could lead to a more effective treatment strategy for arthritis. Dr. Frank Campanile (http://www.handsurgerydenver.com), a Denver hand and wrist surgeon, believes that this data could lead to improved pain management for men and women with the disease.
“This just brings us one step closer to a better solution for my patients,” says Dr. Campanile, a fellowship-trained surgeon who treats men and women with the latest techniques at his (url=http://handsurgerydenver.com/hand-surgery) arthritis center in downtown Denver (/url). “Hopefully this new information will open doors to improved arthritis treatments."
For the study, the scientists followed the progression of inflammatory arthritis in rats. While investigating changes that occurred in the nerves and tissues that surrounded the affected ankle joint, higher levels of NGF were discovered. This protein helps promote the health and growth of the nerves, yet also causes nerve pain. Elevated NGF levels in the skin are commonly seen in human patients with arthritic joints as well. When the nerve fibers’ function was blocked with a blocking agent, researchers noted that the pain-related behavior in the rats was reduced.
Historically, arthritis has been treated solely as a joint disease. However, this new data promotes the idea that nerve function is an important component of the disease as well, and offers a new avenue for treatment that should not be overlooked. Researchers feel that developing more effective long-term treatments for arthritis is dependent upon a better understanding of the reasons behind the condition.
“Since arthritis is a degenerative disease, anything we can do to slow the progression is encouraging,” says Dr. Campanile, who specializes in surgical arthritis treatment for Denver men and women. “Right now, unfortunately, medical science is more limited than I would like to see when it comes to treating arthritis.”
Research scientists used a fluorescence microscope to label different nerve fibers designated by specific markers. In a normal joint, the sympathetic nerve fibers help to regulate circulatory flow through the blood vessels. However, in the arthritic rats, the nerve fibers instead sprouted into the inflamed skin surrounding the joint and wrapped around the pain-sensing nerve fibers instead. The arthritic joint tissues showed a higher number of sympathetic fibers compared to healthy joint tissue as well.
In March 2012, a panel of independent arthritis experts recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allow pharmaceutical researchers to conduct clinical trials of anti-NGFs. If approved, these medications would directly target NGF levels to improve the nerve and joint pain associated with arthritis.