London: A scientist at Dusseldorf University in Germany has developed a potent new pill, which harnesses the body’s natural inflammation-busting ability to beat crippling arthritis.
The “smart” drug not only helps relieve the devastating joint inflammation, which leaves sufferers in daily agony, but researchers also say it has no side-effects, a newspaper reported.
Dr Ulrich Flogel’s powerful medication, which uses patients’ own body to fight the disease naturally, offers new hope for hundreds of thousands of people struck down by rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. Patients suffer severe pain and stiffness in their joints as well as fatigue and loss of mobility.
One patient in four is registered disabled within three years of diagnosis with three-quarters moderately to severely disabled within 20 years.
Methotrexate, or MTX, is the standard treatment but for one in three patients it causes side-effects including nausea, diarrhoea and hair loss.
This new research, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that the drug called chet-AMP reduces inflammation without leading to a drop in blood pressure.
The drug works by harnessing a molecule called CD73 that the body naturally uses to fight inflammation. Chet-AMP is activated only when CD73-covered immune cells are present in inflamed joints, which helps keep nearby tissues unaffected.
“People with rheumatoid arthritis often have to take anti-inflammatory drugs alongside disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to combat the symptoms of their rheumatoid arthritis and taken long term, this type of medication can have unpleasant side-effects,” said Ailsa Bosworth, chief executive at the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.
“Although this study is still at an early stage we welcome any research that advances our knowledge in this field and could lead to better treatment options and improved outcomes for patients,” she added.
The disease can strike at a young age, unlike the more common osteoarthritis, which mainly strikes older people.
It usually affects hands and feet, although any of the body’s joints can become inflamed and painful. It can also lead to crippling flare-ups.