New research suggests that children with arthritis would benefit greatly from targeted treatments, as the cartilage in their joints breaks down through a different mechanism than the cartilage in adults with arthritis.
By analyzing the makeup of cartilage in the fluid inside the joints of juvenile arthritis patients, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne found that the pattern of components was different from that found in adults with arthritis. This finding suggests that different enzymes are responsible for damaging the cartilage, and is a clear indication that juvenile arthritis is a condition that should be considered as distinct from adult arthritis.
Affecting 294,000 children under the age of 18, juvenile arthritis is any form of arthritis that develops in children or teenagers under 18. While the treatments for juvenile arthritis that are in use today can manage and reduce inflammation in affected joints, there are no treatments to slow or prevent cartilage erosion.
Treatments that focus on cartilage erosion are being developed for adult patients, but lead researcher Amanda Fosang says her study indicates that such treatments may not be effective on children.
While the anti-inflammatory treatments for juvenile arthritis have evolved a great deal over the past ten years, experts point to the fact that cartilage erosion creates long-term risks for some patients, and can lead to irreparable joint problems.
Speaking on her findings, Fosang stressed the need to better understand the factors causing the erosion of cartilage in juvenile arthritis patients, in order to develop tailored treatments distinct from those applied to cases of arthritis in adults.