Site News

"CBS This Morning" Interviews Leading Alpha-Gal Meat Allergy Expert, Scott Commins, MD, PhD, to Increase Public Awareness for Condition Believed to Be Related to Tick Bites

A little known, yet increasingly reported food allergy named "alpha-gal" (referring to a sugar in mammalian meat) is believed to result from tick bites. Physician-scientist Scott Commins, MD, PhD, is one of the leading experts in the U.S. regarding this often undiagnosed allergy, and through the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center, he is conducting research to help better understand alpha-gal. Dr. Commins was interviewed by CBS Morning News regarding the allergy, which for some patients can result in serious allergic reactions.

You can view the story via this link

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center Doctors Receive Award for Providing Exceptional Patient Care

Dr. Beth Jonas, Dr. Bill Yount, Dr. Saira Sheikh, and Dr. Scott Commins are recipients of the 2018 "Carolina Care Excellence" Award. When recent surveys asked patients if they would recommend their physician to their friends and family, over 95% checked a box indicating, "Yes, Definitely," for these outstanding doctors. Our congratulations and thanks to these and all of our Thurston physicians for being exemplary in delivering Carolina Care with great empathy and expertise.

You can learn more about the Carolina Care Excellence awards via this link.

Wall Street Journal Story Discussing Arthritis In America Features Dr. Amanda Nelson and Dr. Leigh Callahan

The Wall Street Journal has published an article in which Dr. Amanda Nelson and Dr. Leigh Callahan provide expert perspectives regarding the incidence of arthritis as well as osteoarthritis, the reasons for the increasing number of Americans who are affected, and steps people can take to help reduce development and/or disease progression.

Please take a moment to read the article.

You can also learn about the first and only national awareness campaign that focuses on preventing the onset and progression of osteoarthritis (OA).  Take steps today to StandUp2OA



Rheumatologist Christopher Sims, M.D., Honored by Induction Into Prestigious AIMBE “College of Fellows,” Comprised of the Top 2 percent of Medical and Biological Engineers

Being inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE) “College of Fellows,” is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biological engineers, and serves as a distinction that honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice, or education."

Dr. Sim's  research is based on a multidisciplinary and translational effort that brings to bear principles and techniques from chemistry, engineering, and medicine.  A common thread in his research is the development and application of new technologies for biomedical research with a goal for clinical translation.

A formal induction ceremony was held during the AIMBE Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2018.

Review Paper by UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center Rheumatologist Amanda Nelson, MD, Published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage

Dr. Amanda Nelson's invited Year in Review paper explores the osteoarthritis literature from 2017, including prevalence as well as epidemiologic data related to a number of comorbidities such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Her paper also focuses on the critical need to identify novel strategies to reduce the impact of this highly prevalent and debilitating condition. Dr. Nelson's review paper followed her presentation at the 2017 Osteoarthritis Society International Meeting.

The article in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage is accessible until April 9, 2018 via this link.

Leigh Callahan, PhD, Quoted by AARP and Arthritis Today In News Stories Regarding Benefits of Exercise

AARP Magazine recently published an article detailing the many ways in which walking can improve health, specifically related physical and psychological conditions ranging from osteoporosis to depression and insomnia. For the "Arthritis" section of the article, nationally recognized expert Leigh Callahan, PhD -- with the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center -- provided insights related to the benefits of walking. Dr. Callahan was also quoted in a separate story published in Arthritis Today regarding the benefits of outdoor exercise.

You may access the AARP article via this link

You can view the Arthritis Today story via this link


Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project Profiled in Arthritis Today

For over 25 years, the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project in NC has been one of the premier longitudinal research studies world-wide regarding the causes and implications of osteoarthritis. Long term research studies can be challenging to maintain, as it takes considerable dedication from participants to remain involved over a period of years. That's one reason why this study -- which has yielded over 200 publications -- is so unique, and was recently profiled by Arthritis Today. Read on to learn about the research team that continues to achieve important insights from this study, as they work closely with participants from the local community.

You can learn more about study via this link.    

Leigh Callahan, PhD, Interviewed by Arthritis Today Regarding CDC Study Evaluating Why Too Few People with Arthritis Are Engaging in Physical Exercise

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center epidemiologist Leigh Callahan, PhD, recently provided Arthritis Today with expert insights regarding an important new CDC study that explored the reasons why too few people with arthritis are engaging in physical exercise - even though physical activity is considered an important and first approach for people with arthritis symptoms.

The study found that, while healthcare providers are doing a better job of counselling patients with arthritis to engage in exercise, approximately 40 percent of these patients are still not getting appropriate medical counselling about doing exercises to improve their symptoms during their medical visits.  Read the Arthritis Today article to learn more about the issue, as well as to find useful exercise-related information and resources available for patients available via the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance's website

Researcher Lara Longobardi, PhD, Awarded $1.7 Million Grant to Investigate Biological Factors That Contribute To Development of Osteoarthritis Following Joint Injury

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center scientist Lara Longobardi, PhD, is conducting research designed to yield important new insights into the causes of osteoarthritis, with the goal of helping identify better ways to diagnose and treat the disease. Her work is largely focused on the role played by chemokines (pro-inflammatory molecules) in cartilage and bone degeneration after an injury, and how they affect the pain response.

Specifically, Dr. Longobardi’s research team is focusing on the C-C chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2). This is the receptor for several chemokines involved in the early phase of cartilage and bone degeneration during osteoarthritis following injury, as well as during aging. Her lab uses an in vivo model of OA to understand whether targeting the CCR2 receptor prevents or delays the pathological changes in articular cartilage and bone induced by OA. She is also analyzing pain-related behavioral data to understand the contribution of the CCR2 receptor to pain perception during osteoarthritis.

These types of insights are important to the medical community because they provide clues that may result in more effective treatments for osteoarthritis (OA), a disease which affects over 30 million Americans, and is a leading cause of disability in the adult population. Scientists now know that nearly half of the people who sustain significant knee damage will later develop injury-induced OA. Age also plays a significant role in osteoarthritis, and it is estimated that half of the world’s population aged 65 and older suffers from this disease.

The goal, says Longobardi, is to find new targets to control joint degeneration and pain during the early steps of osteoarthritis development.

Her research is made possible thanks to the NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), which dedicated $1.7 million dollars over a 5-year period to investigate the role of CCR2 in osteoarthritis. 

Yvonne Golightly, PT, PhD, is Conducting Innovative Research Into the Effectiveness of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for Knee Osteoarthritis

UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center investigator Yvonne Golightly, PT, PhD, and her colleague Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, (UNC Department of Exercise and Sport Science), are researching High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as a new, promising approach to add to rehabilitation programs for people with knee osteoarthritis. HIIT includes very short periods of vigorous exercise, as opposed to longer periods of moderately paced exercise. The research is made possible thanks to funding from the NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHID).

Physical activity is recommended for people with knee osteoarthritis, which is a leading cause of disability in the U.S.  Unfortunately, few people with knee osteoarthritis get the recommended amount of physical activity (at least 150 minutes/week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes/week of vigorous exercise) because of physical limitations, pain, or feeling that they do not having enough time to exercise. 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is being tested as new way to help overcome these barriers for people with knee osteoarthritis.  HIIT requires minimal time commitment (10 minutes of exercise two times/week).  Although HIIT is often thought of as an exercise approach to improve sport performance in athletes, it can be performed by people with many different levels of physical fitness because it can be customized to the unique needs and abilities of each person.  HIIT programs have been safely performed among people with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Finding new treatment approaches for osteoarthritis is a crucial step needed to lessen the rising public health burden of knee osteoarthritis.  It is hoped that HIIT programs can further advance physical therapy approaches by helping individuals with knee OA improve their ability to perform activities of daily life, reduce their pain, and enhance their overall health. 

Dr. Golightly is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy, and a researcher at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center as well as the Injury Prevention Research Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.  

Filed under: