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Thurston Researchers Present New Scientific Findings at the 2017 Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) World Congress

When the leading osteoarthritis (OA) thought leaders from across the globe recently gathered in Las Vegas, NV, experts from the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center were there to share insights gleaned from important new research. While speaking in venues ranging from plenary sessions to poster presentations, Thurston scientists shared finding on topics ranging from how knee shape affects OA, to studies of the genetic influences on the development of OA.
Thurston Researchers Present New Scientific Findings at the 2017 Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) World Congress click to enlarge Dr. Amanda Nelson presented at the plenary session of the 2017 Osteoarthritis Research Society International World Congress

Rheumatologist and researcher Amanda E. Nelson, MD, MSCR, was invited as one of seven OA experts to present to over 1,000 attendees at a plenary session on the most important clinical findings published in the past year.  Her summary, resulting from a systematic review of the literature published since the previous OARSI meeting, focused on key topic areas such as the incidence and prevalence of OA, advances in OA treatments, the role of obesity in OA, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS); this work will be published as an article in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage later this year.  Dr. Nelson also gave an oral presentation on her work on knee shape and OA risk.

Also making an 'invited presentation' at this year’s meeting was Richard Loeser, MD, who discussed key research findings related to the role of reactive oxygen species in osteoarthritis.  Dr. Loeser previously received the OARSI Basic Science Research award for his work on basic mechanisms driving cartilage destruction in OA and the role of aging.   

A brief summary of presentations made this year by UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center experts included:

Oral presentations:

Amanda E. Nelson, MD, MSCR.  Baseline Knee Shape Discriminates Cases Of Incident Knee Radiographic OA From Controls: A Case-Control Study Using Novel Methodology From The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project

Richard Loeser, MD.  Redox Regulation of Cell Signaling in Chondrocytes

Veronica Ulici, PhD.  Osteoarthritis Induced Destabilization Of The Medial Meniscus (DMM) Is Reduced In Germ-Free Mice

Poster presentations:

Brian Diekman, PhD.  Chondrocyte-Specific Loss Of The Branched Actin Mediator ARP2/3 Results In Growth Plate Fusion And Proteoglycan Loss In Articular Cartilage

John Collins, PhD.  Differential Peroxiredoxin Hyperoxidation Regulates Map Kinase Signaling In Human Articular Chondrocytes

Becki Cleveland, PhD.  Knee and Hip OA As Risk Factors For The Development of CVD and Diabetes In A Community-Based Longitudinal Study  

Portia Flowers, PhD.  Racial Differences In Performance-Based Function And Potential Explanatory Factors Among Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis

Rheumatologist Beth Jonas, MD, Answers Listeners' Questions About Arthritis on National Public Radio's "The People's Pharmacy"

The topic of arthritis is more complicated than it might seem, with over 100 form of this sometimes debilitating disease affecting people of all ages. To help shed light on the subject, leading rheumatologist Beth Jonas, MD, recently joined Joe and Terry Graedon to answer listener's questions on The Peoples' Pharmacy. For a link to this episode of The People's Pharmacy click here.
Rheumatologist Beth Jonas, MD, Answers Listeners' Questions About Arthritis on National Public Radio's "The People's Pharmacy" click to enlarge Beth Jonas, MD, (right) answers listeners' questions on The People's Pharmacy.

Use this link to download the People's Pharmacy episode on arthritis, featuring rheumatologist Beth Jonas, MD.  

Dr. Edwin Kim Hosts a "Food Allergies 101" Facebook Live Event

Allergist Edwin Kim, MD, recently hosted a video interview on Facebook Live to educate viewers on many topics related to food allergies. The lively and dynamic event invited people to write in their allergy related questions, which were answered by Dr. Kim. For a link to the video click here.
Dr. Edwin Kim Hosts a "Food Allergies 101" Facebook Live Event click to enlarge Dr. Edwin Kim (far right) answers emails from people with allergies via Facebook Live.

Use this link to view the video:  FacebookLive








Celebrating Excellence in Providing Care – Drs. Rivadeneira, Jerath, and Yount Receive Patient Satisfaction Award

Three researchers who are physicians with the UNC Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, as well as staff members of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center (TARC) have been recognized for outstanding patient care. Dr. Alfredo Rivadeneira, Dr. Maya Jerath and Dr. Bill Yount are recipients of the 2017 UNC Health Care and UNC Faculty Physicians Award for “Carolina Care Excellence.”

A recent UNC survey asked patients if they would recommend their provider’s office to their family and friends.  More than 95% of the responding patients of these physicians indicated “Yes, definitely!,” which places the doctors in the top quartile nationally.  In addition, Drs. Rivadeneira, Jerath and Yount are multi-year recipients of this award.   

“Our team could not have won this award without the quality care provided by our outstanding front desk staff as well as our skilled and empathetic nursing staff,” said Dr. Bill Yount, who has received the award for three consecutive years.

Congratulations to the team for creating an exceptional experience for patients, and for being exemplary in delivering high quality care combined with expertise and compassion.   

Learn more about the UNC Allergy and Immunology Clinic, the UNC Rheumatology Clinic and UNC Rheumatology Lupus clinic

*Event Rescheduled* Alpha-Gal (Red Meat Allergy) Symposium Previously Planned for April 18th Being Rescheduled For Later Date

Important Update: We have recently heard from numerous physicians who expressed an interest in learning more about alpha-gal food allergy. To provide the greatest value to attendees we are reformatting and rescheduling our patient symposium for a later date. We plan to open the patient symposium to physicians who would like to learn more about alpha-gal. In addition to hearing from patients about their experiences, we will provide education on diagnosing and treating this allergy, as well as presenting important new research findings and data for attendees. The symposium will also enable healthcare professionals to earn continuing medical education (CME) credits. More information will be forthcoming. Anyone registered for the previously planned event date will be issued a refund.
*Event Rescheduled*  Alpha-Gal (Red Meat Allergy) Symposium Previously Planned for April 18th Being Rescheduled For Later Date click to enlarge The symposium allows attendees to interact with and hear from two of the leading alpha-gal experts in the country, as well as other patients who have the allergy to red meat.

An under-recognized allergy named “alpha-gal” can cause some people who are affected to experience serious allergic reactions when they consume food or products containing meat such as beef and pork.  It is believed that the allergy sometimes develops in individuals following a tick bite.  UNC is one of a few locations in the U.S. conducting clinical research on alpha-gal, and two of its physician-researchers – Maya Jerath, MD, PhD; and Scott Commins, MD, PhD – are among the leading alpha-gal experts in the country.  Anyone interested in learning more about alpha-gal from these experts, as well as meeting others who have the allergy, are invited to attend an educational alpha-gal symposium.  Attendance requires advance registration.   

Note: The event is being reformatted and rescheduled to a later date. 

Study shows that high bone mineral density scores are associated with lower risk of painful hip osteoarthritis (OA)

Despite the growing base of data from arthritis research, there remains a lack of adequate scientific information regarding the relationship between bone mineral density and hip osteoarthritis (OA). A new study shows that while higher bone mineral density may lower the risk of painful hip OA among middle-aged and older adults followed for a median of 6.5 years, having “intermediate” (vs. “low” or “high”) bone mineral density may increase the risk of OA – including OA accompanied by symptoms – in knees. Overall, these results suggest that having high bone mineral density does not increase the risk of hip or knee OA, and may reduce the risk of painful hip OA.

The research relied, in part, on data obtained from study participants in the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project (JoCoOA), which is based in NC and is one of the largest and longest-lasting OA studies in the U.S.  JoCoOA director and principal investigator Joanne Jordan, MD, MPH, was one of the study authors for the bone mineral density research. 


The study findings were recently published in Arthritis Care & Research.  Read more about the study via This Link.

Thurston Arthritis Research Center and Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project Play Key Role in Study that Identifies New Genetic Marker for Osteoarthritis

The study, which combined the results of genetic data analysis from four well-defined population groups identified a new genetic marker associated with knee osteoarthritis (OA) among North American Caucasians. The genetic marker may identify people who are at increased chance of developing OA. The new findings can help scientists better understand the genetic mechanisms behind OA development and its progression, as well find new methods to prevent and treat OA. Importantly, the study also confirmed three other previously identified genetic markers associated with knee OA.

In research of this type, having genetic data from a sufficient number of study participants is very important.  Since the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project (JoCoOA) is one of the largest and longest-lasting OA studies in the U.S, its contribution of collected genetic data as well the participation of JoCoOA scientists and data analysis specialists played a critical role in this research.  Joanne Jordan, MD, MPH, who is director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center Director was a study author, and is also the Principal Investigator for JoCoOA. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the study, and findings were recently published in Arthritis and Rheumatology.  Read about the study via This Link

Dr. Joanne Jordan Writes "Perspective" Piece Regarding Study Showing Older Adults With Arthritis Can Benefit From Just 45 Minutes of Exercise Weekly

Federal guidelines suggest older adults with osteoarthritis (OA) engage in a total of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise a week, completed in increments of at least 10 minutes. For a variety of reasons, only about 10% of older adults with knee OA meet this goal. The good news, however, is researchers have found that as little as 45 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking weekly (even if not completed in 10-minutes segments) can still provide significant benefits.

The study, says Dr. Jordan, provides important insights regarding how people with knee symptoms and knee OA can set realistic and less intimidating exercise goals to help them begin exercising, with the intention of gradually building up to recommended guidelines.  While the 45-minute threshold provides a very helpful 'minimum' initial goal, it is important to remember that more exercise may provide important additional benefits.  Learn more about study, as well as Dr. Jordan's "Perspective" piece on Healio Rheumatology.     

Doug Phanstiel, PhD, Receives Grant to Research DNA Looping Related to Inflammation and Immune Response

Thurston Arthritis Research Center scientist Doug Phanstiel, PhD, has received a three-year "Independence Award" grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH. The research he will conduct under this grant is designed to help scientists better understand a variety of biological processes that play key roles in regulating immune cell development, including DNA looping and regulation of transcription.
Doug Phanstiel, PhD, Receives Grant to Research DNA Looping Related to Inflammation and Immune Response click to enlarge Doug Phanstiel, PhD

Genes make up less than two percent of the human genome.  Scattered throughout the rest of the genome (the complete set of genetic instructions for an organism) are areas that regulate the expression of genes – the process by which genetic instructions are used to create products such as proteins.  Large DNA “loops” bring these regions into close proximity with the genes they are meant to target.  These loops play a major role in regulating human development, health, and disease.  Unfortunately, high-throughput and accurate methods to detect and study DNA loops are still emerging.  The research covered by this grant will involve developing new tools to identify DNA loops, and provide new insights into the role that looping plays related to immune response and inflammation.  Because altered, or incorrect, regulation of transcription is a common cause for many human diseases, this work is likely to inform our understanding of a variety of biological processes and human disease states.   

Dr. Edwin Kim Interviewed by WRAL TV Regarding New Peanut Allergy Guidelines

The National Institutes of Health have issued important new guidelines that are relevant for parents of children with peanut allergy. Thurston Allergist Edwin Kim, MD helps explain the significance of the guidelines, which are a departure from much of the traditional wisdom related to children with food allergies.

The new recommendations are based on research indicating that early exposure is more likely to protect babies from developing peanut allergies than to harm them.  As with any such topic, it is important that parents discuss the matter with their healthcare provider.  View a news story that helps explain the guidelines, and which includes an interview in which Dr. Kim provides helpful perspectives for parents.  {WRAL-TV Link Temporarily Unavailable}  

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