Goal to Identify the Disease's Causes and New Treatment Approaches
Call Raushanah Kareem at 410-706-5791 or 1-866-565-KNEE (5633) outside the Baltimore area to learn more about the study and how to participate.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are recruiting patients for the largest multi-center study ever conducted on osteoarthritis of the knee. The seven-year project, called the Osteoarthritis Initiative, will enroll 5,000 volunteers nationally, including 1,250 from the Baltimore area. Volunteers will range in age from 45 to 79 and at least half will be African-American. The study is funded by an $8.1 million research contract from the National Institutes of Health. Participants will be recruited and followed at both the University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
"This initiative may lead to new drug therapies to prevent osteoarthritis of the knee, or halt its progression," says principal investigator Marc C. Hochberg, M.D., M.P.H., head of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Current therapies are predominantly designed to relieve pain," says Dr. Hochberg, "but to treat the disease itself, we must understand its causes and identify potential targets in the disease process that may suggest new treatment strategies. This study is designed to pinpoint those factors through the collection and analysis of a wide variety of data."
A new, more powerful MRI machine, to be used for this study, is lowered into place.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the major cause of physical disability in older people. It is a chronic disease that breaks down cartilage, the shock absorbing tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. With the cartilage gone, the bones rub against each other, resulting in pain and loss of motion in the joint.
Osteoarthritis curbs the activity and mobility of 80 percent of the people who have it. About 21 million American adults have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. By age 60, nearly half of the population has x-ray or other radiological evidence of osteoarthritis in one or more joints, most commonly the fingers, and by age 80, nearly all people have it.
Study participants will include those who have symptoms from osteoarthritis of the knee and those who are at increased risk. Risk factors include knee pain, a knee injury or knee surgery. People with a relative who has had a knee replacement for osteoarthritis and those with osteoarthritis of the hands are also at increased risk for knee osteoarthritis.
Volunteers in the study will be asked to complete several questionnaires, have a physical examination of their knees and measurements of height, weight, pulse, blood pressure, and muscle strength. Participants will make six visits over five years, will have walking tests and be asked to provide blood and urine specimens. The study includes x-rays of the hands, hips and knees, and state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the knees.
Currently, x-ray images do not adequately reveal early damage from osteoarthritis. The Osteoarthritis Initiative will address that problem by using a new generation of super powerful MRI machines to achieve more accurate assessments of cartilage deterioration. The project includes funding for a new MRI machine for each of the four national clinical centers. These machines are twice as powerful as the MRI devices currently in use.
"Our hope is that the Osteoarthritis Initiative will take us to the next level in the clarity of diagnostic images. Those images will add enormously to our understanding of what the disease does to the body," says co-investigator Charles S. Resnik, M.D., professor of diagnostic radiology and orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of Musculoskeletal Radiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Funding for the Osteoarthritis Initiative consortium comes from the NIH and several pharmaceutical companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Co., Inc., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Pfizer. Other institutions participating in the Osteoarthritis Initiative around the nation include: Ohio State University, Columbus; University of Pittsburgh; Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Pawtucket; and University of California San Francisco (data coordinating center).
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.