Cure for rheumatoid arthritis? Scientists say they are close to breakthrough
A team of researchers at Yale University has identified a genetic mechanism that augments the risk of severe rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory auto-immune disease that attacks the joints. Their discovery could pave the way for the development of treatments that take into account patients’ genetic profiles.Updated: Nov 28, 2016 11:42 IST
Today treatments such as anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs have enabled doctors to stabilize the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, while ongoing research continues in a bid to achieve a long-term adjustment in patients’ immunity that will amount to a cure.
This latest American study focused on the genetic character of this debilitating disease. Along with the deregulation of patients’ immune systems, genetic risk factors can account for 50% of the probability of developing rheumatoid arthritis. In particular, researchers analyzed modifications in the expression of the MIF gene found in the most serious cases.
According to their findings, patients showing a wide variation of MIF genes produce higher quantities of MIF proteins implicated in the development of cancers. They further concluded that this process is also at work on the level of damaged joint cells. The discovery will pave the way for testing MIF pathway inhibitors on rheumatoid arthritis sufferers; such drugs are currently in clinical trials to evaluate their efficacy in the treatment of cancer, and other auto-immune pathologies.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most prevalent form of inflammatory rheumatism. The illness can occur at any age, however, it is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 60, and often associated with the age of menopause for women. Early rheumatoid arthritis in patients under the age of 30 is four times as common among women. After age 60, prevalence is identical for both sexes. These findings have been published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS).