The Future of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

At the moment, the most cutting edge treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are the biologic response modifiers or “biologics.” These medications are developed using bioengineering and genetic engineering techniques to produce targeted therapies that are most often used as an injection under the skin or as an IV infusion so as to calm down the immune system, which is attacking the joints and other organs. There are a number of different biologics with different side effects. Some biologics are more aggressive than others; the more aggressive medications tend to have more side effects. Some patients may have a reaction to one biologic but not have a reaction to another.

Surgical procedures are currently being improved. Arthroscopies have already become less invasive, and less invasive techniques for spinal operations and joint replacements are already developed but will probably become more commonly practiced in the future. Although wrist, elbow, and ankle replacements are being done, they will probably also become more common, feasible options in the future.

Regarding osteoarthritis, there is no FDA approved drug as osteoarthritis is when degeneration of the joint occurs, sometimes in an isolated manner. Right now, Space Coast Rheumatology can give medications to treat symptoms, but there is no way to grow back damaged or missing cartilage. There is basic science research being done with stem cells to develop new organs. Three- dimensional printers are being used to grow new organs so growing new joints may be a possibility in the future. Using a person’s own stem cells will help prevent tissue rejection. Replacing a joint with a new joint made from your body’s own cells will eliminate the need to have an artificial joint replacement. At least, this is the hope.