New Approach May Halt or Reverse Rheumatoid Arthritis

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New research to be published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism discussed a novel way to halt or reverse rheumatoid arthritis by using am imitation of a suicide molecule that floats undetected into immune cells that are responsible for this type of arthritis. Using this approach the researchers were able to stop the disease in 75% of the study mice without any observed toxic effects as is the case with current drugs. The mechanism is that healthy immune cells usually die after attacking an invading virus or bacteria. However, in rheumatoid arthritis the immune cells do not die but live on and go rogue proliferating in the blood, building up in the joints and invading cartilage and bone.

Researchers discovered that immune cells in rheumatoid arthritis are low in a critical molecule (Bim) that cause the immune cells to self- destruct. To correct this fault they developed an imitation of this molecule (called BH2) that was injected into study mice with rheumatoid arthritis that caused the immune cells to destruct, joint swelling was reduced and bone destruction decreased. Thus, they concluded that the molecule could prevent the disease and trigger a remission in those who have it. Further research is planned to develop a more precise method of delivering the drug.

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