Some good news for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. British researchers at Newcastle University have discovered a new method for treating rheumatoid arthritis. The research is being led by Dr Graeme O’Boyle and has been published in PNAS.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling in the joints. Unlike some other forms of arthritis it is not caused by wear and tear of the joints, instead it is an autoimmune disease.
The latest research has been experimenting with the manipulation of white blood cells, and specifically preventing white blood cells from entering the affected joints. When white blood cells enter the joints they cause damage and more swelling as the body attempts to heal the perceived infection.
PS372424 Stops White Blood Cells
The research has led to the creation of a new drug called PS372424 that can stop white blood cells entering joints. The drug works by binding on to the CXCR3 receptors on destructive white blood cells which stops them from moving from the blood stream and into the joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
“By desensitising damaging white blood cells using CXCR3 they are not directed to migrate towards rheumatoid sites. The advantage of this system is that it is much more specific than current medications and may not compromise the immune system.” Dr Graeme O’Boyle.
Rheumatoid arthritis is when the immune system starts to attack the inflamed joints as it thinks that the inflammation is an infection. This causes further inflamation and pain, resulting in a vicious cycle.
Traditional methods of treating rheumatoid arthritis have involved switching off the signals within the affected joints that attract the white blood cells. The new method works differently, by stopping the white blood cells from being able to enter the joints.
Although the research is still in the relatively early stages Dr Graeme O’Boyle is very excited about the progress that has already been made.
Arthritis Research UK
This research has been funded by Arthritis Research UK who work with all forms of arthritis. They are a Registered Charity and focus on pain relief with the purpose of increasing mobility and activity amongst sufferers of arthritis. Arthritis Research UK works closely with governments, other medical research charities, the health science industry, the NHS and various professional bodies and universities.
“New potential target for rheumatoid arthritis” Published on 06 March 2012, Arthritis Research UK.
“A CXCR3 agonist prevents human T cell migration in a humanized model of arthritic inflammation”. Graeme O’Boyle, Christopher Fox, Hannah R Walden, Joseph DP Willet, Emily R Mavin, Dominic W Hine, Jeremy M Palmer, Catriona E Barker, Christopher A Lamb, Simi Ali, John A Kirby. PNAS MS# 2011-18104R