A new network of European researchers has been funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) to focus on osteoarthritis by developing new strategies to tackle this crippling condition. Two out of three people over 50 have creaky and cracking joints that causes them daily pain and reduces their mobility. It’s an increasing problem because the world population is getting older and humans are becoming more and more obese and sedentary. Osteoarthritis is surprisingly common in younger people too, especially in couch potatoes with poor diets and lifestyles.
Although osteoarthritis currently affects more than 500 million people in the world, there are no drugs to treat the disease, and the only available treatments are painkillers. This highlights the societal impact of osteoarthritis and the need for more concerted action to develop more effective treatments that can be used to treat and prevent the disease.
NetwOArk will raise further awareness of the seriousness of osteoarthritis and its impacts on society among the public and policymakers. This is timely and important because the burden of osteoarthritis in Europe is huge, and by 2050 it is expected that a “Tsunami” of osteoarthritis cases will hit healthcare systems across the world, potentially adding months and years to unacceptably long waiting lists for joint replacement surgery, which is the inevitable outcome for the most serious cases. The funding will allow researchers to build an inclusive network and a new society that brings together all the major stakeholders, including patients, patient advocacy groups, scientists, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, medical device manufacturers and policymakers.