World Arthritis Day is held every year on the 12th October to raise awareness about Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMD). RMDs are a collection of diverse (more than 200), usually chronic, diseases most commonly affecting the joints, but also muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bones and even internal organs. This group of diseases, which includes osteoporosis, several types of arthritis and systemic connective tissue disorders, affects more individuals in the industrialised world than any other disease group. They affect people of all ages, from children to the elderly, and are typically the result of immune system dysfunction, inflammation, infections or gradual deterioration of bones, muscles and joints. These RMDs are often very painful and can affect a person’s ability to perform simple daily activities, which in turn can affect working capacity. In severe cases, they can result in significant disability. Thus, as well as a personal cost, RMDs also have an economic cost in terms of loss of workplace productivity due to disability, sick leave and early retirement.
Since 2010, EULAR (the European League against Rheumatism) has held an annual EULAR Brussels Conference. The purpose of the annual event is to create and maintain awareness around topics directly affecting people with RMDs in society, through discussions with members of the EU policy arena. To mark World Arthritis Day 2020, EULAR will hold their annual EULAR Brussels Forum (renamed for 2020) online on the topic of ‘Employment risks and impacts for Europeans with RMDs during the COVID-19 recession.’ Exclusion from the workplace due to RMDs affects not only finances, but also mental health and self-esteem (EULAR infographic: https://www.eular.org/myUploadData/files/eular_brussels_forum_2020_infographic.pdf). The COVID-19 driven recession has exacerbated the threat to the participation of those living with RMDs in the European workforce. The EULAR event on 12th October will explore the challenges faced by people living with RMDs in the post/current-COVID19 world. To find out more about EULAR and the 2020 Forum please visit the EULAR website: https://www.eular.org/eular_brussels_forum.cfm
Despite being the biggest cause of premature retirement and sick leave in Europe, there are currently no cures for this painful group of chronic diseases. The aim of RESTORE is to regenerate health through Advanced Therapies, providing cures for chronic diseases and not just treating disease symptoms. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent chronic joint disorder worldwide. Currently there is no clinical regenerative treatment option for OA, however, intense study has been done on the use of mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based therapy as a potential novel and regenerative treatment option. Several clinical trials have been carried out using MSCs as a treatment for OA, particularly in the knee. The study by Maleitzke T et al, carried out by RESTORE partners, evaluates the available literature on the clinical translation of MSC based therapy in OA management. Whilst MSCs do hold promise as a novel and effective OA treatment option, there is still much work to be done as outlined in the study by Maleitzke T et al. For example, standardisation of clinical trial management and documentation to be able to effectively compare trials and glean the most possible information from them, clear safety studies with long term follow-up as well as mechanism of action studies. RESTORE aims to support all the steps along the chain of Advanced Therapy development in order to bring effective and potentially curative therapies to patients in need. Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Based Therapy-An Alternative to Arthroplasty for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis? A State of the Art Review of Clinical Trials. Maleitzke T et al. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 2062 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32630066/