Fighting arthritis: Researchers edit stem cells to fight inflammation
SMART cells, develop into cartilage cells that produce a biologic anti-inflammatory drug that could replace arthritic cartilage and simultaneously protect joints and other tissues from damage that occurs with chronic inflammation.
New Delhi: In a major development, researchers have developed a cartilage that fights inflammation caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions, using the gene-editing technique called CRISPR.
For the breakthrough, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine converted skin cells from the tails of mice into stem cells.
They then used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to remove a gene involved in inflammation and replace it with one that produces anti-inflammatory drug.
They called the resulting cells as SMART cells, which stands for Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy.
"Our goal is to package the rewired stem cells as a vaccine for arthritis, which would deliver an anti-inflammatory drug to an arthritic joint but only when it is needed," said Farshid Guilak, Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, and senior author of a study published online in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
"To do this, we needed to create a 'smart' cell," Guilak said.
According to the study, SMART cells, develop into cartilage cells that produce a biologic anti-inflammatory drug that could replace arthritic cartilage and simultaneously protect joints and other tissues from damage that occurs with chronic inflammation.
Many current drugs used to treat arthritis attack an inflammation-promoting molecule called tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).
But the problem with these drugs is that they are given systemically rather than targeted to joints. As a result, they interfere with the immune system throughout the body and can make patients susceptible to side effects such as infections.
"We want to use our gene-editing technology as a way to deliver targeted therapy in response to localised inflammation in a joint, as opposed to current drug therapies that can interfere with the inflammatory response through the entire body," Guilak said.
The research has been published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
(With IANS inputs)