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Can Gene Therapy Help with Osteoarthritis?

07 December 2018   AMAC

New gene therapy offers hope to seniors who suffer from Osteoarthritis, say AMAC

It’s a game changer for older Americans at a time when we are living longer than ever

WASHINGTON, DC, Dec 7 -- Osteoarthritis [OA] is the leading cause of aches and pains as we grow old. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI] reportsthat OA is the most common joint disorder in the world and one of the most common sources of disability in the elderly.

 But, now there may be a new non-addictive, holistic treatment for OA, according to the senior advocacy organization, the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC]. 

 Currently, the most common way of treating the disease is to simply deal with the pain using NSAIDs [non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs]. But, a new non-surgical, non-opioid approach to dealing with the disease is in the offing. It’s a gene therapy treatment originally developed for dogs with OA. And, some researchers believe it could put an end not only to the often-agonizing discomfort it causes in humans, but also to the need for hip and knee replacements.

 The treatment, which proved itself safe and effective in canines, is already in FDA-approved human clinical trials.

 University of Colorado Professor, Dr. Linda Watkins, developed the pioneering procedure. Watkins joined the University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience in 1988 and, as one publication put it she quickly “began to rock the boat in the field of pain research.”

 She theorized that glial cells, which are found throughout the body’s central nervous system, might be the real cause of chronic pain. Little was known about glial cells at that time, and so she was greeted with skepticism. But that didn’t stop her. And, she eventually proved that those cells drive pain when you get sick or are hurt.  As you get better those same cells produce Interleukin 10, a potent naturally occurring anti-inflammatory.

Watkins explains that "all animals, from humans back through lizards and fish, have the DNA 'recipe' in the nucleus of their cells to make the interleukin-10,” which is important in keeping inflammation under control.

The problem is osteoarthritic cells do not make enough IL-10 to keep inflammation under control. But, she says, "our IL-10 gene therapy provides the cells within the osteoarthritis joint with the 'recipe' for making IL-10 far more efficiently and effectively. One single injection leads to very prolonged relief of pain and disability."

 AMAC president Dan Weber describes this pain management gene therapy as a potential game changer. “Our life spans have increased rapidly in recent years and chronic pain can make it difficult, at best, to engage in even the simplest activity as we grow older. It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans, mostly older Americans, suffer from Osteoarthritis. That’s more than 12% of the population. A medical breakthrough such as this one rarely occurs but it can have an incredibly positive, long-term impact on the elderly. For many of them it can give them a new lease on life.”

The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC]​ [] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at