In general, a Growth Factor is a term used to describe a protein produced be a variety of different cell types that binds to specific receptors on different cellular surfaces. They may on the one hand stimulate cell growth; on the other hand, some growth factors may block actions on target cells of a different protein. Cytokines are another class of signaling proteins more closely related to hormones. The subject matter is quite complex; but, I wanted to introduce the subject of Growth Factors into my Blog as growth factors are increasingly gaining attention in combating and reversing the progression of arthritis.
Already in use is Tissue Necrosis Factor-alpha blocker, frequently prescribed in a proprietary form as Humera, for inflammatory arthritis and arthropathy such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthropathy and Ankylosing Spondylitis. It works by blocking a protein (TNF-Alpha), found in the body’s immune system and responsible for joint swelling and inflammation. By so doing, Humera reduces symptoms, prevents bone and cartilage damage and improves physical function.
Outside of the United States, Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) is used for the symptoms of grades 2 and 3 Osteoarthritis by binding to the cell surface and preventing IL-1 from sending a proinflammatory message to that cell. IRAP is currently the basis for a clinical trial taking place in the United States to document its safety and efficacy. The sponsors of the trial hope for full enrollment and outcomes analysis in the not too distant future; so, the Growth Factor might be used with FDA approval in clinical practice. It was for IRAP that one-time basketball great Kobe Bryant, travelled to Dusseldorf Germany, ten years ago with grade 4 osteoarthritis of the knee thereby prolonging his career by six years.
On Tuesday of this week, I received a call form a company exploring a safety and feasibility trial for yet another growth factor approach with the latter derived from another human biologic resource. Last March, there was a contact from a global pharmaceutical company asking my help in developing a trial for yet another type of a growth factor approach in dealing with the symptoms and limitations of arthritis. I introduce the Growth Factor subject matter now to better update my reader as well as prepare you for the coming debate that Growth Factors are equal to; perhaps more important as we age than stem cells for dealing with the symptoms, functional limitations and progression of arthritis.
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