Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease of joints, especially involves small joints of hands and joints, if its course is not halted in time, it may damage your joints pretty fast and may cripple you for life. It has been found that the immune cells called macrophages, which in normal circumstances are supposed to die after they attack an invading virus or bacteria; live, go rogue, proliferate in the blood, build up in the joints and invade cartilage and bone. Currently, there is no effective, nontoxic way to stop them.

Future approach for Rheumatoid Arthritis

MISBEHAVING IMMUNE CELL IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS” MACROPHAGE”

A Completely new approach which has been tested on mice, seems to halt and reverse the rheumatoid arthritis without the side effects of the current treatments. The study has been published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

“This new therapy stopped the disease progression in 75 percent of the mice,” says Harris Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The best part was we didn’t see any toxicity. This has a lot of potential for creating an entirely new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.”

Perlman discovered that immune cells in rheumatoid arthritis are low in a critical molecule called Bim, whose job is to order the cells to self-destruct. To correct that shortage, Perlman developed an imitation of the molecule, called BH3 mimetic. When Harris injected his drug into mice with rheumatoid arthritis, it floated ghostlike into their macrophages and bam!, the abnormal immune cells was self destructed. This molecule has been nicknamed Casper the Ghost, can float undetected into overactive immune cells responsible for rheumatoid arthritis, causing them to self-destruct.

Harris shows that Casper the Ghost could prevent the development of rheumatoid arthritis as well as could trigger a remission of the ongoing disease disease. After the drug was injected in animals with the disease, joint swelling subsided and bone destruction decreased.

Current treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include low-level chemotherapy and steroids. These are not always effective, however, and they are frequently associated with the side effects.

A newer class of therapy, which is sometimes used in combination with chemotherapy and steroids, is called biologic response modifiers like Etanercept and Infliximab. These are antibodies or other proteins that reduce the inflammation produced by the hyperactive immune cells. These biologics don’t work for everyone and can be associated with side effects, including the risk of infection.

Perlman says the next step is to develop nanotechnology for a more precise method of delivering the drug. His research was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Northwestern University news: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

So hold your breath and have hope that a new treatment may be at the horizon to cure Rheumatoid Arthritis.