President of the 64th Annual General Assembly and
Scientific Meeting of the Japan College of Rheumatology
Naoki Ishiguro, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Orthopaedics/Rheumatology,
Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine
The main theme of this congress will be “Bridge to Happiness.”
In the last two decades of the Japanese Heisei era, rheumatology has witnessed remarkable advances. Dramatically improved therapeutic outcomes have revised society’s view of the disease. Being an intractable disease of unknown cause, rheumatoid arthritis has been shown to be treatable with much improved prognosis by using new therapeutics and starting a secure treatment strategy earlier than ever. At present, such new treatment modalities are finding beneficial applications for various diseases related to inflammation, heralding a paradigm shift in the treatment of rheumatic disease. Against this background, healthcare professionals involved in treating rheumatic disease are witnessing the advent of a wonderful new era.
However, what is the situation for patients suffering from the disease? We have not yet achieved their true goal for happiness of “freedom from the suffering of illness.” Even though currently available treatments are excellent, not all patients can enjoy the expected effects. Much remains to be investigated for complete solutions. For example, one study reported that symptoms are viewed in different ways by patients and healthcare professionals. In addition, complete cure is not ensured at present, and another study reported that discontinuing treatment often led to failure. A number of issues remain to be resolved, including side effects and coincidental infections. Physical and mental changes in aging patients have become increasingly problematic for treatment.
It is sure that we have witnessed many groundbreaking results from treatment focusing on evidence-based medicine (EBM). On average, their effect is remarkable, posing no doubt. However, we must think beyond the present state. While a complete cure is not expected, we should provide the best possible treatment for individual patients. Disease is never pleasant, but we can improve the situation for patients. We all want the longest possible healthy life expectancy even when living with disease. I hope we can encourage healthcare professionals to think of “treatment that ensures future happiness for patients.”
I believe that medicine is a discipline that aims to serve human beings. The ultimate goal of medicine is to ensure the happiness and health of individual patients for a brighter future. I would like to make this 64th assembly and meeting an opportunity for participants to think of approaches to delivering “a brighter future for our patients.”
I have been engaged in basic research in the metabolism of cartilage. Therefore, I would like to focus on the treatment of arthropathies, which cannot emerge and evolve without an understanding of cartilage tissue. While it is known that cartilage destruction is evidently involved in the onset of the disorder of rheumatoid arthritis, it seems inevitable in today’s aging society that we will encounter increasing incidences of arthropathy accompanied by cartilage tissue disorder, and so we must put priority on addressing this issue.
In 2020, Japan will host the Olympic Games, and our congress will be the first in the new era to transmit information to the rest of the world. The most distinctive feature of medicine compared with other natural sciences is its ultimate goal of promoting health for humans. I hope to convey this fact at the congress both to Japan and the rest of the world.
I look forward to welcoming you warmly at the congress.