Potential arthritis treatment target uncovered

6 March 2012

Researchers have uncovered a potential target for rheumatoid arthritis treatment which functions by preventing damaging white blood cells from entering the joints.

The Newcastle University team used a drug to prevent destructive white blood cells moving from the bloodstream into inflamed tissue and thereby preventing them from causing further injury.

In rheumatoid arthritis the body's own immune system attacks its joints.

While common therapies include blocking the signals in the body that activate the immune system to attack the joint, this approach would prevent the damaging white blood cells from entering the joints in the first place.

Lead author Graeme O'Boyle explained: "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 and so won't add to the damage."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1.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. "A CXCR3 agonist prevents human T cell migration in a humanized model of arthritic inflammation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


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