Curing osteoarthritis with stem cells

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Curing osteoarthritis with stem cells



My story begins in 1981 when I finished my training at the National Institutes of Health, the foremost biomedical research facility in the world. I had no idea what I wanted to specialize in, but as a fellow in the Arthritis branch I was eligible to take the board exam in arthritis. So I did and passed it and said to myself… “Well I guess this is what I’m supposed to do.” And those words were prophetic…
I went into practice and began to see that helping patients escape their pain was very gratifying. And one fateful Thanksgiving when I went home to see my parents, all my siblings were there. One of my sisters told me she was having some joint swelling and pain. I discovered she had rheumatoid arthritis. Through my connections I was able to get her in touch with a top-notch rheumatologist where she lived but that experience hit me in the gut. .. That wasn’t the end of it.

A few years later, one of my kids came down with juvenile arthritis and it just about broke my heart. He went from a vibrant athletic kid to an invalid. There were days when I literally had to pick him up in arms from his bed and carry him down to the kitchen so he could have breakfast before going to school. I felt powerless… I was an adult rheumatologist with a child with this dreaded illness. And the pediatric rheumatologists Benji was seeing were not helping. He was going downhill fast. Fortunately, one of my med school classmates, Dr. Tom Lehman, was chief of pediatric rheumatology at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. My wife and I took Benji up to see him and him and Dr. Lehman got him on the right medicines and put Benji into remission.
I wanted to tell you about this because it shows how far medical science has come with remarkable remedies for devastating autoimmune forms of arthritis. And since I’ve been involved in clinical research for more than 30 years, I’ve helped develop some of the marvelous medicines we now have available for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
However, I’ve been frustrated because even with all these triumphs, there remains one major shortcoming…
And that is we have no effective treatments for the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis.
That is my mission and goal.

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