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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness that springs from an autoimmune disorder. It develops when a person’s own immune cells mistakenly attack their normal synovial joint fluid. Such attacks can lead to really painful inflammation. This can lead to permanent joint damage especially if left untreated.
Did you know about 1.5 million people have rheumatoid arthritis in the United States? And, women are three times more likely to develop the disease than men.
The most common onset of the illness is between ages 30 and 60. SO it’s quite obvious joint issues aren’t only an ‘old’ person thing like some might think.
What’s alarming about rheumatoid arthritis is that there is currently no known cure for it. Studies have been conducted but all that they can come up with are treatment techniques. We discuss some of the latest treatment techniques here.
But before we discuss, remember that only your rheumatologist can decide if a new treatment will work for you. Please do not attempt to self-medicate!
Stem cells for targeted inflammation therapy
Many of the drugs that are currently used to combat rheumatoid arthritis and its symptoms attack a specific molecule. A molecule that scientists call the tumor necrosis factor-alpha or TNF-alpha. You guessed it—it deals with inflammation.
Current drugs are designed to counter TNF-alpha all over the body. It would be better if it only targeted the part that suffers from inflammations, right? But since it doesn’t, it often results in a generalized immunity issue. This can cause complications especially if done without the guidance of a competent rheumatologist.
This is basically what a team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, Duke University, and Cytex Therapeutics aims to address.
“We want to use our gene-editing technology as a way to deliver targeted therapy in response to localized inflammation in a joint, as opposed to current drug therapies that can interfere with the inflammatory response through the entire body,” says Farshid Guilak, Ph.D. who acts as the team’s senior author and researcher.
From stem cells, the team developed cartilage tissue. What made this tissue special is the fact that a key inflammatory gene has been replaced with a TNF inhibitor. When this cartilage tissue senses the presence of a TNF-alpha, the engineered cells within it actively respond by producing a therapeutic drug that counters the inflammation.
Pretty neat, huh?
If this technology works out, those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis will finally get some much-needed relief.
Regulation of pro-inflammatory protein as a treatment
A team of researchers headed by Dr. Adrian Achuthan from the University of Melbourne found that a certain protein, which they labeled CCL17, is particularly present in large amounts in the blood and synovial fluid of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Further examinations made clear its role in mediating inflammatory processes.
Dr. Achuthan thinks that taking drugs that can regulate the activities of this specific protein can be used as an alternative therapy for people who do not respond well to the usual anti-TNF-alpha treatments. “In addition, given the role of CCL17 in pain, anti-CCL17 therapy can have much broader application.”
Do you suffer from arthritis?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.