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Press Release

Arthritis Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant To Stop Arthritis After ACL Tears, Sports Injuries

PR Newswire

Study Could Revolutionize Treatment for Osteoarthritis

ATLANTA, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Arthritis Foundation awarded a $1 million, multi-institutional grant that could revolutionize future treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) and ignite a new era in drug discovery. By studying anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the knee, a major risk factor for developing OA, researchers could potentially discover tools and treatments to detect and reverse OA before symptoms ever appear.

An estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. tear an ACL each year, often leading to a diagnosis of OA within 10 to 20 years. OA is the most common form of arthritis that results in disability for many people. Approximately 27 million of the 50 million Americans with arthritis suffer from OA.  Presently, there are no medications to slow or stop OA and no tools to identify early stages of the disease.

"ACL injury is an ideal model to study early events in OA," says Dr. John Hardin, Arthritis Foundation director of osteoarthritis research.  "An ACL tear immediately triggers the OA disease process at a molecular and cellular level and it continues for one or more years.  If we can detect and measure these early changes, we could likely discover treatments to prevent or slow down the disease in the general population."

A team of researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) will use the Arthritis Foundation grant to demonstrate the feasibility of using state-of-the-art technologies to monitor joint health after ACL injuries across multiple research centers. The team will test the ability of new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to measure the molecular changes that begin to occur immediately after an ACL tear. Results of this study may enable a future clinical trial to test compounds that can potentially treat OA.

"This partnership is an integral part of the emerging field of precision medicine, which aims to harness the vast advances in technology, genetics and biomedical research to better understand the roots of disease and to transform heath care so that prevention, diagnosis and treatment are precisely tailored to individuals to develop targeted therapies and to improve care to patients worldwide," says Sharmila Majumdar, PhD., vice chair for research, professor, and director of the musculoskeletal and quantitative imaging research group at UCSF and co-principal investigator for this project.

Investigators at each of the three institutions will invite healthy young individuals who have just torn their ACL to join the study. Patients will be evaluated at several points during the first 12 months after the injury with traditional MRI and newer MRI techniques.

"Not everyone who has an ACL tear will develop osteoarthritis, but some do," says Dr. Scott Rodeo, orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery and project co-principal investigator." The goal is to identify biomarkers that reflect alterations in the joint environment that may be predictive of developing arthritis."

"What we learn from examining these biomarkers and from the MRI after injury can allow us and others to develop strategies, drug therapy or ways to prevent, or at least delay, osteoarthritis," says Dr. Michael Stuart, vice chair of orthopedic surgery and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic.

The Arthritis Foundation grant for the Feasibility Trial to Study ACL Injury as a Model of Early Osteoarthritis is made possible through generous donations from Marsha and Henry Laufer, PhDs and the Alpha Omicron Pi fraternity.

To learn more about arthritis research or to help the Arthritis Foundation invest in finding a cure, visit

About the Arthritis Foundation
Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability.  The Arthritis Foundation ( is committed to raising awareness and reducing the unacceptable impact of this serious and painful disease, which can severely damage joints and rob people of living life to its fullest.  The Foundation funds life-changing research that has restored mobility in patients for more than six decades; fights for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions who live with arthritis; and partners with families to provide empowering programs and information.

About the Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 4 in rheumatology, and No. 5 in geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report (2013-14), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center three consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. From 2007 to 2012, HSS has been a recipient of the HealthGrades Joint Replacement Excellence Award. HSS is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at

About the Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit and

About the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

SOURCE Arthritis Foundation