Have you ever seen the headlines: “Scientists Discover Miracle Cure for Arthritis!” or “Great News for Arthritis Sufferers!” or “Arthritis Breakthrough – New Drug blah blah blah!” and so on? I have, and I’ve been reading their associated ‘news’ articles for over thirty-five years, yet somehow, today, the only mainstream treatments used for rheumatoid arthritis worldwide are still; NSAIDs, DMARDs, and Biologics. So where are all those ‘miracle’ cures and treatments then?
The answer is (I suspect), that for various reasons the majority were never fully developed. Possibly because; they were proven to be ineffective, their funding was withdrawn, early trials showed dangerous or fatal side effects which couldn’t be hidden, they weren’t cost-effective, or they showed promise but were prevented from reaching the market by powerful competing interests. Also, in all cases that I’ve researched, all of these miracle treatments were announced in the media far too soon – long before there was any concrete evidence of their effectiveness (at least in humans).
The problem with these kinds of hyped news announcements is that they falsely raise the hopes of arthritis sufferers and make it that much more difficult for us to maintain an optimistic and positive outlook which is essential in order to have any chance of treating and reversing this disease by using other more established methods, the most effective of which are diet and lifestyle based.
Another problem with all of these miracle cures whether they are chemical, biological, electrical or surgical, is that they are all based on treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and never address the causes. They are not miracles and they are not cures, they are overhyped unrealistic symptom control methods that seldom if ever fulfil their stated promises. The only new developments that reach the market and become generally available are yet more variations on existing drug therapies or refinements to surgical procedures (in large part because they are very profitable and have an established supply chain and a receptive market).
Miracle Arthritis Treatment & Cure Headlines – Hollow Promises?
1: “New research holds out the hope of ending the misery of rheumatoid arthritis…” This article appeared in the Independent on 15 September 2010, quote: “Within five years it may be possible to target patients early on with personalised drugs that allow them to lead normal pain-free lives, say scientists.” That was eight years ago, has anyone seen or had access to any personalised drugs for rheumatoid arthritis treatment? I haven’t heard of any becoming available. The best I’ve seen are Biologics which although more targetted, are not ‘personalisd.
2: “Early clinical trial success for new rheumatoid arthritis treatment” This article appeared in ScienceDaily on June 3, 2015, quote: “Thomas said results from the phase one clinical trial, published in Science Translational Medicine, demonstrate the new treatment is safe and effective in supressing the immune response.”
This new treatment claims to treat the cause of rheumatoid arthritis and not just the symptoms, however from this quote: “Professor Thomas said a single injection of the patient’s own immune-modified dendritic cells was found to be safe and to help supress the immune response in rheumatoid arthritis.” It’s clear that this therapy is still designed to ‘suppress’ the immune system rather than identifying and treating the underlying causes of RA such as leaky gut, dysbiosis, food-associated endotoxins and intolerances etc.
However, if this treatment (a form of vaccine-like immunotherapy) was proven to be safe and effective it would be a major improvement over current drug treatments since it would be both a targeted and personalised therapy (see the previous news headline 1 above) with fewer side effects. Unfortunately there are several reasons why it may be a long time (if ever) before this treatment becomes widely available for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers as follows.
From these quotes: “At this stage, the technique would not be ideal for widespread treatment or prevention of rheumatoid arthritis because it’s costly and time-consuming.” and “Professor Thomas is working on a delivery technology with Dendright Pty Ltd (a UniQuest start-up company) in collaboration Janssen Biotech Inc., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.” – It’s costly and time-consuming, the delivery technology is being developed by biotech and pharmaceutical companies (this likely means that the treatment will only become accessible to patients after having paid for and undergone a long series of more traditional drug therapies first), and this particular project has been under development for at least five years already: [New rheumatoid arthritis treatment moves a step closer to reality] and [Trials bring hope for world–first rheumatoid arthritis treatment].
3: “Arthritis Drug Called Miracle…” This article appeared in The Spokesman-Review on Nov. 4, 1996, quote: “Arthritis Drug Called Miracle In Spokane Test Genetically Engineered Treatments Restore Joys Of Life To Area Recipients“. This was twenty-two years ago, and the article was extremely vague and no mention of the actual trial of the drugs in question was made in the article. However, an indication of when the ‘miracle’ would become available was given towards the end of the article, quote: “The drugs probably will require at least two more years of testing before federal Food and Drug Administration approval for general use.” I’ve included this news article to demonstrate just how vague and superficial these reports of ‘miracle’ cures and treatments can be and also to show that it’s not just a problem with mainstream newspapers and magazines.
4: “A ‘miracle’ we can’t afford” this article appeared in the Telegraph on 31 Jul 2001, quote: “The Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin has called the new pharmaceuticals a “significant advance” in treatment.”… “But half of Britain’s rheumatologists are not allowed to prescribe them because they are too costly.” This is a very moving and sensitively written news article, however there are two issues which come to light; first is the sheer cost of these apparent ‘miracle’ drugs (still expensive today), and second is the fact that these ‘miracle’ drugs were/are Enbrel (etanercept) and Remicade (infliximab) which once again only treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by blocking TNF alpha, so just another immune suppressor and not a ‘miracle’. The dangerous and life threatening side effects of these drugs have since been demonstrated to great effect and are currently used only as a last resort after everything else is failed.
5: “This Drug Free Arthritis Treatment Will Change Everything” this article appeared in the Huffington Post on 12/01/2016, quote: “The days of wincing and bearing it, or undergoing painful, mood and body altering treatment could well be behind us.” I’ve included this ‘news’ article to demonstrate that it’s not just mainstream pharmaceutical companies/universities that leak miracle treatment & cure headlines, but also alternative treatment and supplement companies. This particular ‘news’ article is actually just an advertorial to sell a type of arthritis relief product but it clearly demonstrates how the overhyped (This… Will Change Everything) headline fails to deliver yet again! However beneficial this product may or may not be,I doubt it will change ‘everything’ in the field of arthritis treatment :-)
6: “Arthritis pain: Miracle jab could ease agony for MILLIONS of sufferers” this article appeared in the Express on Feb 10, 2018, quote: “A MIRACLE jab that could ease the misery of arthritis for millions of sufferers has been developed by scientists, it was revealed today.” Coming right up to date with this one, an example of a current ‘miracle’ promising much for millions of arthritis sufferers yet again. The irony is that this one is ‘actually’ very promising and could indeed help to reverse the damage caused to joints by osteoarthritis and possibly rheumatoid arthritis. So in this sense it treats some of the cause of the disability brought about by the disease i.e. not just suppressing the symptoms as usual. However, it remains to be seen if this ‘miracle’ treatment will ever make it to the general market at a realistic cost, watch this space! :-)
In summary, I’ve witnessed hundreds of ‘miracle’ treatment & cure news announcements for arthritis over the last thirty-five years or so and I’ve saved references and bookmarks to most of them. However, apart from new drug therapies and developments in surgical treatments I’ve yet to witness any current miracles! :-) I’m not suggesting that these advances in drug and surgical therapies and treatments are not beneficial, because they do dramatically relieve pain and inflammation and allow people to function normally by varying degrees. I’m just pointing out that the ‘Miracle Cure’ and ‘End of Arthritis Suffering’ headlines/announcements/promises never appear to bear fruit. Hopefully the new generation of targeted/personalised and stem cell-based treatments will at least provide more benefits with fewer side-effects than current mainstream drugs therapies.
Newspaper image by Elijah O’Donell is public domain