Lack of Hope – the Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom We Need to Correct

I am writing this item in mid-April 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It may be an odd time to think of hope.  But it is at the forefront of my mind today.  Yesterday I witnessed the typical spring activity in my yard.  We have a rather large robin in our yard. She is busy chasing little twigs and other debris, and she is placing it on a tree branch. 

Occasionally I see a smaller robin with a more orange breast who joins in. They are building a tiny nest in the same place that robins build their nest each year. The same nest we usually find later in the year on the ground. Along that same vein, we are noticing a pair of ducks strolling around our yard looking for a place to nest, which is also an annual occurrence. I take these simple annual happenings as a sign of hope.

Hope for advances in RA treatment

Hope is needed for our broader rheumatoid arthritis community. Amidst all the pain and suffering, we need and deserve hope. Hope for a cure?  I wish I could hope for a cure, but not today. A cure seems like a bridge too far.  So today I am hoping for progress, hope for the next generation, and hope for a better, more fulfilled life.

Biosimilar products

How can I have this hope? To start with, I am noting the number of biosimilar products coming into the market. Biosimilars should provide our community with a lower-cost way to obtain the treatment we so desperately need. While that has not happened yet, I have hope.

Possible treatment advances due to the COVID pandemic

I am also hoping that the very pandemic we are struggling with may spur research advances for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. According to the New York Times, one novel approach to treating the worst cases of COVID-19, which sometimes results in a “cytokine storm” is to use tocilizumab better known as Actemra.1 Actemra was chosen because it is used to decrease inflammation.2 

Does this mean there is a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and COVID-19?  No, but it does mean that in some instances, scientists are looking for agents that reduce inflammation, and that is a positive sign for those of us who have rheumatoid arthritis.  Discoveries made about ways to reduce inflammation are always positive for us.

Increased understanding of how RA develops

If that hope seems too shallow and you want to learn about research, look into why I am hopeful about rheumatoid arthritis, look at the article “Deep dive into research advances in Rheumatoid Arththis” published by the Journal of Laboratory and Precision Medicine in June 2018. In the conclusion, the author details exciting research in the field of rheumatoid arthritis.

In the last few years, several studies have shed more light into the pathophysiology of RA offering new views on how the disease develops. This has been achieved by increasing studies on the genetic and environmental risk factors in RA and recently on the effect of microbiome.3

Active RA research means the work is being done

This paper details an impressive list of active investigations about rheumatoid arthritis. Will one of them, someday make the breakthrough to put pain in its place? Will it identify a root environmental factor that sets off an autoimmune storm? Will a study give science the long hoped for a cure (whatever that is)? Well, maybe it will, or perhaps not. No matter if it leads to a cure, I have hope because scientists are working to make things better.

Hope in future research on RA

So yes, I see hope all around. Hope is defined by as "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best."3 Today, I see hope in science as they pursue the cause and how to mitigate the impact of rheumatoid arthritis.

The robins and ducks in our yard have that kind of hope. They hope to build a nest to raise their young and launch a new generation. They make this search, yet each year the wind blows the nest out of the tree, a coyote finds the duck eggs and destroys them, or the eggs never hatch.  Regardless of what happened last time, the animals still hope for this year.

Optimism about the future of RA treatment

Should we have less hope than the wildlife in my backyard? I think not. Because I know we are justified in having as much or more hope.  Will all this scientific investigation bear fruit for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis? I hope so, and that hope makes me very optimistic. I hope it makes you hopeful as well.

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