Research on inflammasomes opens therapeutic ways for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

July 2, 2014

Patients with more or less severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have the same painful symptoms, but does this mean that the cause of their illness is the same? And therefore that they should all receive the same treatment? Scientists at VIB and Ghent University have demonstrated with their research into inflammasomes that RA should be considered as a syndrome rather than a single disease.

Mohamed Lamkanfi (VIB/Ghent University) said: "Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be very painful and it is not always easy to find the most suitable medicine. Until recently, RA was considered to be a single disease, but our research suggests that it is more likely to be a syndrome than a single disease. This knowledge could result in a more personalized approach to , with the most suitable medicines selected according to the patient's profile."

Rheumatoid arthritis and inflammasomes

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints and without treatment it evolves into a debilitating and painful condition that can severely affect the patient's quality of life. An estimated 1 to 2 % of the world's population suffers from RA; this equates to approximately 5 million people in Europe.

Inflammasomes are protein complexes that form part of our immune system. Scientists have suspected for some time that inflammasomes play a role in the development and progression of RA. Lieselotte Vande Walle and Mohamed Lamkanfi have been able to demonstrate the role of inflammasomes in RA using a specific mouse model with RA, developed by VIB colleagues Geert van Loo and Rudi Beyaert in Ghent.

They were able to combat the development of RA by blocking inflammasomes. One of the processes accounted for by inflammasomes is the production of interleukin-1, a protein with an important role in inflammatory reactions. Stopping the effects of interleukin-1 resulted in a cure for the mice. In this manner, Vande Walle and Lamkanfi demonstrated that the mouse model is perfectly suitable for studying the correlation between inflammasomes and RA.

A new therapeutic target

This first that places the genetic focus on the inflammasomes also lays the foundations for developing new treatments. Previous research has already demonstrated that other proteins in our immune system – such as TNF and IL-17 – could possibly play a role in RA. Medicines have since been developed to combat these proteins and thereby cure RA. These research results demonstrate that a further therapeutic option could be the blocking of the inflammasome (or the resulting IL-1).

Medicine to order

The research by VIB scientists also demonstrates that RA is a syndrome rather than a single disease, in other words that similar symptoms can have various different causes. If one knows the cause, one can offer very targeted treatment. In the case of genetic forms of breast, skin and lung cancer it is already possible to predict with great accuracy – by means of genetic tests – whether a treatment will work or not. We could evolve towards a more personalized approach for RA too. People with RA may all have the same symptoms, but the underlying genetic causes can differ. And so the future treatment options will differ too. A new challenge for many scientists!

Explore further: Higher disease activity scores in obese RA patients

Related Stories

Higher disease activity scores in obese RA patients

June 11, 2014
A new study presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014) showed that obese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher DAS (disease activity) scores than non-obese patients, ...

Defect in A20 gene expression causes rheumatoid arthritis

August 16, 2011
Researchers from VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) and Ghent University have shown that a defective gene can contribute to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, an often-crippling inflammation of the joints that afflicts ...

Same-day double knee replacement safe for select rheumatoid arthritis patients

March 13, 2014
Same-day bilateral knee replacement surgery is safe for select patients with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York have found.

New point of focus found for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases

October 9, 2012
Scientists affiliated with VIB and UGent have discovered a mechanism used by the protein A20 to combat inflammation. This could be a very important point of focus in the search for a treatment for autoimmune diseases such ...

Novel biomarkers improve diagnosis in rheumatoid arthritis

June 14, 2013
Data presented at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, show that novel antibody biomarkers could significantly improve diagnosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

New animal model for rheumatoid arthritis

June 28, 2012
Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have created the first animal model that spontaneously develops rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and is predisposed towards atherosclerosis, or hardening of the ...

Recommended for you

Fluid in the knee holds clues for why osteoarthritis is more common in females

June 26, 2017
Researchers have more evidence that males and females are different, this time in the fluid that helps protect the cartilage in their knee joints.

Biologics before triple therapy not cost effective for rheumatoid arthritis

May 29, 2017
Stepping up to biologic therapy when methotrexate monotherapy fails offers minimal incremental benefit over using a combination of drugs known as triple therapy, yet incurs large costs for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). ...

Drug for refractory psoriatic arthritis shows promise in clinical trial

May 24, 2017
In a pivotal phase-3 clinical trial led by a Stanford University School of Medicine investigator, patients with psoriatic arthritis for whom standard-of-care pharmaceutical treatments have provided no lasting relief experienced ...

Cross-species links identified for osteoarthritis

May 17, 2017
New research from the University of Liverpool, published today in the journal npj Systems Biology and Applications, has identified 'cell messages' that could help identify the early stages of osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis could be prevented with good diet and exercise

May 12, 2017
Osteoarthritis can potentially be prevented with a good diet and regular exercise, a new expert review published in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology reports.

Rodents with trouble walking reveal potential treatment approach for most common joint disease

May 11, 2017
Maintaining the supply of a molecule that helps to nourish cartilage prevented osteoarthritis in animal models of the disease, according to a report published in Nature Communications online May 11.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

doxie_nut
not rated yet Aug 13, 2014
Is there clinical trial for human with this drug/ if so how does one get in on them

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.