Breakthrough Gel for Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis is a crippling disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Some suffer only mild symptoms but at its worst it is truly debilitating and extremely painful with treatment bringing patchy relief for many. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are characterized by often debilitating pain in the joints and a new method of relief could be at hand.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the USA) report on an injectable gel that could spell the future for treating these diseases and others. Among its advantages, the gel could allow the targeted release of medicine at an affected joint, and could dispense that medicine on demand in response to enzymes associated with arthritic flare-ups. Arthritis is a good example of a disease that attacks specific parts of the body. Conventional treatments for it, however, largely involve drugs taken orally. Not only do these take a while (often weeks) to exert their effects, they can have additional side effects. That is because the drug is dispersed throughout the body, not just at the affected joint. Further, high concentrations of the drug are necessary to deliver enough to the affected joint, which runs the risk of toxicity

Nor could this new development be limited solely to arthritis but researchers believe could be useful for multiple medical applications including the localized treatment of cancer, ocular disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Jeffrey Karp, leader of the research and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics, recently won the coveted SFB Young Investigator Award for this work. It is currently of course possible to inject a drug into the target area, but it won’t last long–only minutes to hours–because it is removed by the body’s highly efficient lymphatic system. There are also available implantable drug-delivery devices but these have drawbacks: most are made of stiff materials that in a joint can rub and cause inflammation on their own and they generally release medicine continuously–even when it’s not needed. Arthritis, for example, occurs in cycles characterized by flare-ups then remission.

A series of experiments confirmed that the gel can release encapsulated agents in an on-demand manner and although the team has yet to test this in humans, they did find that in mice the gelremained stable for at least two months. Further, the gel withstood wear and tear representative of conditions in a moving joint.

Additional tests in mice are underway and a patent has been applied for so they can start research on human subjects.

Can your dentist help your arthritis?


If you are one of the half a million people in the UK who have rheumatoid arthritis, and I include myself among them, then going to the Dentist doesn’t usually suggest itself as a cure. However, some new studies published in the Journal of Periodontology show that there is definitely a link between a healthy mouth and a healthy body.

Research by the Case Western Reserve University School in Cleveland USA supports existing reports linking gum disease with arthritic pain and inflammation. Arthritis is definitely inflamed by toxins in the body and tooth decay and gum disease are both natural homes for toxins. They monitored 40 people with moderate or severe periodontitis and severe rheumatoid arthritis to see if dental treatment made any difference to their arthritis. If the subjects had toothache or painful teeth then extracting them seemed to have a positive impact on arthritic pain. It was made even better if the dental treatment was combined with taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

Gum disease no joke
A huge number of us will suffer gum disease at some point in our lives, with some estimates putting it as high as 19 in 20 people. There are significant potential risks as gum disease has been linked to not only arthritis, but heart disease, strokes, diabetes and premature births.

Ayurvedic herb relieves osteoarthritis

It now seems that an Ayurvedic herb known as the ‘Indian Frankincense’ can dramatically improve the symptoms of the most common form of arthritis — osteoarthritis. No surprise to me as I have found all forms of herbal medicine to be effective, whether English, Chinese or Ayurvedic, but what is amazing is that treatment appears to provide relief within just one week.

I discovered this in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy where scientists from the University of California at Davis published their research conclusions when they tested an extract dubbed AKBA (3-O-acetyl -11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) from the herb Boswellia serrata on 70 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Boswellia is the gummy resin of the boswellia tree, which is native to India, and used for centuries by Ayurvedic doctors as it contains anti-inflammatory terpenoids called boswellic acids. Boswellia is often included in arthritis remedies, and has been used for thousands of years by Ayurvedic practitioners.

The research subjects were suffering from pain, limited movement, stiffness and other symptoms of osteoarthritis, which most commonly affects weight- bearing joints like knees and hips, as well as the hands, wrists, feet and spine. Symptoms were relieved in about seven days in this study — which is the first to show that an enriched extract of Bowellia serrata be used as a successful treatment in humans. The researchers concluded that its anti-inflammatory properties can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee and was shown to have no major adverse effects in osteoarthritis patients and so was safe for human consumption and even for long-term use.