An Indian radiologist has spearheaded clinical research to cure osteoarthritis without surgery and helped hundreds suffering from the painful condition to walk again, holding out promise of relief to the millions suffering from it.
Said to be the first of its kind in the world, the non-invasive treatment involves application of electromagnetic beams to regenerate tissues that wear and tear due to ageing.
Wing Commander (Retd) V.G. Vasishta, former head of radio diagnosis department at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) here, said the Rotational Field Quantum Magnetic Resonance (RFQMR) beam treatment on patients during clinical trials have shown remarkable results.
With growing demand, he plans to open clinics in major metros like Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata over the next six months offering the treatment, which is much cheaper than knee replacement.
Vasishta told IANS: "As a degenerative disease caused by the loss of cartilage from load-bearing joints, especially the knees, osteoarthritis results in impairment of movement and chronic pain. Though many therapies, including newer drugs have been tried, the results have not been encouraging, forcing sufferers into expensive surgery."
"By applying the Rotational Field Quantum Magnetic Resonance beams in the clinical trials spread over two years and covering about 500 patients, we had remarkable results in terms of relief from severe pain and regeneration of the cartilage in a natural process without side-effects."
The RFQMR technology generates precise high intensity quantum magnetic resonance beams from 288 specially designed guns that are focused on a target tissue. The beams are delivered in the sub-radio and near-radio frequency spectrum by a computerised device called Cytotron to alter the cell membrane potential.
"Like other tissues, bone and cartilage are constantly being built-up and broken down by a variety of metabolic and physical influences. The major stimulus for bone and cartilage formation is a piezoelectric signal generated when these structures are subjected to tension or compression.
"Younger people also fall prey to osteoarthritis because of sedentary lifestyles, lack of exercise, irregular food habits, obesity and genetic disorders. Majority of the patients treated during the trials seem to have been affected due to hazardous occupations in the urban environment, coupled with static postures while watching television or using computers for long hours," Vasishta said.
Increasing urbanisation and changing lifestyles due to growing consumerism have shown osteoarthritis becoming an epidemic in the sub-continent, with at least 15 percent of the over billion-strong Indians suffering from the painful condition.
After having successfully treated about 500 people in the age group of 40-75 years and making them walk again without surgery, Vasishta has decided to offer the treatment across the country through special clinics being set up by Cartigen Healthcare Ltd., a company co-founded by him and his associates.
The clinical trials were conducted as a pilot project after taking consent of the patients as prescribed by the Institute Ethics Committee. Their knees were exposed to the RFQMR beams for one hour everyday for three weeks. After the treatment, they were re-assessed radiologically and by other parameters set by the Knee Society.
Prior to the 21-day treatment, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the knees is taken to plan the exact dosage and map the affected region. The beams are precisely controlled and focused on to tissues, generating streaming voltage potentials.
The electrical impulse in the joints causes forced movement of hydrogen protons and stimulates the cartilage called chondrocytes.
"The trials have demonstrated that RFQMR stimulates the chondrocytes and initiates the regeneration process, reduces pain and increases mobility of the joints, thus reversing the negative cycle," Vasishta pointed out.
Initially, two dedicated clinics for treating osteoarthritis will become operational in Bangalore and Mumbai from Nov 15. The Cytotron RFQMR machine has been designed and developed at the Centre for Advanced Research & Development (CADR) in Bangalore.
The Switzerland-based International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which prescribes the safety laws for the use of RFQMR, has approved the Cytotron device for treating osteoarthritis by Cartigen.
"Keeping in view the growing demand for such non-invasive treatment, we plan to open 10-15 clinics in major metros like Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata over the next six months," Vasishta said.
In order to make the treatment affordable and within the reach of the common man, Cartigen is keeping the cost at Rs.60,000, which is one-fourth that incurred for the replacement of both knees by surgery.