The unexpected discovery about rheumatoid arthritis offers a novel therapy for joint inflammation

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. The immune system normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses.

Along with joint inflammation and pain, many people experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

The cause of RA is not yet fully understood, although doctors do know that an abnormal response of the immune system plays a leading role in the inflammation and joint damage that occurs.

The goals of RA treatment are stopping inflammation (put the disease in remission), relieve symptoms, prevent joint and organ damage, improve physical function and overall well-being, and reduce long-term complications.

Currently, researchers at the School of Medical of Virginia have found an unexpected factor about RA, which is likely to help explain why the pain associated with the disease suddenly fits. Their findings published in the scientific journal Nature Immunology pointed to a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases and could also use a simple blood test to detect people at high risk of developing the disease. 

The research team at Kodi Ravichandran's lab at UVA medical school was seeking to better understand the causes of inflammation in inflammatory arthritis, they found that deleting a gene called ELMOL reduced arthritis in mice. The result made them surprised because it was initially thought that the absence of ELMOL would lead to an increase in inflammation.

As the deep research, the researchers demonstrated that ELMOL promotes inflammation through its function in white blood cells called neutrophils. Neutrophils are thought to be the first defense line of the body when the body is attacked by external bacterial viruses, neutrophils will fight against them. After killing foreign substances, they will swallow them up, and the human body will not feel uncomfortable. But when excessive neutrophils enter or they stay too long, in this case, infiltration into the joints during arthritis. 

The researchers also discovered a natural in the ELMOL gene that makes neutrophils more active and more likely to invade joints and cause inflammation. And a potential blood test can detect the change.

Usually, doctors are not willing to try to block the role of genes like ELMOL in the body, which can play different roles in the body. But Ravichandran thought ELMOL is special. Because ELMOL is only paired with specific proteins in neutrophils, but not in the other cells. In addition, other research team analyzed ELMOL protein compounds in detail, finding many of them have also been related to human arthritis. This further confirmed the role of ELMOL in RA.

It was inspiring that the mice whose ELMOL were blocked were observed to reduce inflammation in arthritis, not triggering other problems. And their lab is looking for drugs that can inhibit the function of ELMOL, and they are also designing the test for testing ELMOL gene mutations.

Cite this article

CUSABIO team. The unexpected discovery about rheumatoid arthritis offers a novel therapy for joint inflammation.


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