Q: Where do you see rheumatology 10 years from now?
A: I’m not sure which to predict will come first, the cure for fibromyalgia or for systemic sclerosis.
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Change is discontinuous, it has been said. So I wish I could envision something unanticipated, equivalent—say—to what H. pylori was to the pathogenesis of ulcer disease. Maybe the cure for lupus will be in samplings from Mars or elsewhere in space, maybe vaccination to [the] Zika virus will confer resistance or immunity to [rheumatoid arthritis], or maybe McDonald’s fries will protect against autoimmune disease.4
More likely, the not-too-distant future should, indeed, bring us better understandings of rheumatic diseases from which will come better and personalized care, including remissions, cures, vaccines and other preventive measures. What we learn about rheumatic diseases will overlap with progress in cancer, aging, dementia and other chronic inflammatory and immunologically mediated disorders.
I would hope to see us thinking more about promoting and preserving health than managing disease. I would like to hope, too, that we will have identified newer and better ways of providing adequate care to all. And we will see these trends evolve through more and better international collaborations. Long gone are the days when rheumatology was largely an American enterprise.
And most of all, I hope I’m around to see what does transpire.
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.
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- Panush RS. Rheum with a view. The Rheumatologist. 2011 Jan 17.
- Panush RS. Rheum with a view: How should we train rheumatology fellows? The Rheumatologist. 2011 Jan 17.
- Hernandez AL, Kitz A, Wu C, et al. Sodium chloride inhibits the suppressive function of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells. J Clin Invest. 2015 Nov 2;125(11):4212–4222. doi: 10.1172/JCI81151. Epub 2015 Oct 20.