New drug could stop arthritis - RA
Researchers at the University of Newcastle are currently testing a new drug that has the potential to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease in which elements of the immune system attack the body. Sufferers experience chronic pain and inflammation in the joints, as white blood cells, known as T-cells, invade joints and cause damage.
The Daily Mail reports that in early-stage tests, the drug stopped the inflammation that causes the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Study leader Graeme O'Boyle told the Daily Mail: "Imagine that the damaged joint is covered in flags which are signalling to the white blood cells.
"Traditional treatments have involved pulling down the flags one by one, but what we have done is use an agent which in effect 'blindfolds' the white blood cells.
"Therefore they don't know which way to travel so won't add to the damage."
The Independent reports that scientists carried out tests on a genetically engineered mouse with a human-like immune system. They discovered that a compound called PS372424 blocked the ability of to T-cells invade joints.
Only the white blood cells implicated in rheumatoid arthritis are affected, so the drug doesn't affect the body's immune system as a whole.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, which funded the research, told The Independent: "Although modern treatments have changed the outcome for many patients with rheumatoid arthritis, firstly not all patients respond to them and secondly, even in those patients who do respond in some way, we can't completely get rid of the inflammation that damages their joints.
"This research is very exciting, as although it is in its early stages, if it can be transferred to humans it could shut down the inflammation that causes rheumatoid arthritis."
Researchers will now work on improving the drug-like properties of PS372424 for clinical trials.