News at Medicine - December 2019 - Award-winning research focuses on Osteoarthritis

Award-winning research focuses on Osteoarthritis
December 27, 2019
Salem Werdyani, a PhD student at the Zhai Lab in the Discipline of Genetics, has been awarded the Arthritis Society training graduate PhD Salary Award.
As one of seven PhD students selected from across Canada, his award includes $31,500 for three years from September 2019 to September 2022.
Mr. Salem Werdyani, PhD candidate in the Zhai lab, Discipline of Genetics
 His project titled "Genetic predictors for non-responders to the total joint replacement therapy in primary osteoarthritis patients" looks at finding ways to determine if a particular intervention will be more likely to help patients with arthritis. On November 3, Mr. Werdyani attended the Arthritis Society of Newfoundland’s conference, Seniors Living Well with Arthritis in St. John’s where he presented overview and findings from his research about his research.

An estimated 37 per cent of Canadians aged 20 or older who had been diagnosed with arthritis reported OA as their only form of the arthritis. Globally, about 240 million people are affected by OA and many suffer from pain so great that it forces patients to seek medical assistance.

Areas of great pain include pain in their hip(s), knee(s) and for some in both areas. One from of treatment is Total Joint Replacement (TJR), a surgical procedure in which parts of an arthritic or damaged joint are removed and replaced with a metal, plastic or ceramic prosthesis.

But this surgical solution is not necessarily a fix for everyone.

“Despite the high prevalence and societal burden of OA, there is no cure for it yet. Total joint replacement (TJR) is the most effective treatment for end-stage OA patients,” said Mr. Werdyani. “Most of patients get better following TJR, however, a notable proportion of patients either do not improve or get worse.”

Dr. Guangju Zhai has established the Newfoundland Osteoarthritis study (NFOAS), which contains samples and data from more than one thousand OA patients. Because Mr. Werdyani was given an opportunity to join the Zhai lab, he has been able to and pursue his PhD in OA research to investigate the association between the genetic factors and poor TJR outcome in OA patients from the well-established NFOAS. 

Mr. Werdyani explained that after identifying the genetic factors associated with poor TJR outcome, he will create an approach based on these genetic factors to help clinicians and patients decide whether to undergo TJR. 

“This research will improve our understanding of the potential mechanisms leading to a poor outcome of TJR; and lead to develop strategies and treatments to improve the rehabilitation of OA patients.”

Mr. Werdyani presenting at the Seniors Living Well with Arthritis in St. John’s on Nov. 3, 2019