New Delhi: Researchers have figured out how the immune cells of rheumatoid arthritis patients become hyperactive and attack their joints and bones.
It is because these cells lose their `bouncer` - a burly protein that keeps them in line - the same way a bouncer in a nightclub controls rowdy patrons. The Feinberg School of Medicine team has identified this `bouncer` - protein P21.
It checkmates immune cells from going into their destructive mode through the cartilage and bone, the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism reports.
When the scientists developed and injected an imitation of the protein into an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis, it halted the disease process, according to a Feinberg statement. "The bouncer molecule stopped the immune cells from going crazy," said Harris Perlman, associate professor of rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School, who led the study. "Imagine destructive customers in a bar, and the bouncer says, `You are going to behave!` That`s P21. This discovery opens up a new avenue for future therapies, which are greatly needed for rheumatoid arthritis," he said.
Previous research by the Feinberg team showed people with rheumatoid arthritis were low in P21, but the protein`s role was unknown. The new study, reveals the protein`s vital role in keeping the immune cells in check. Currently, there is no effective, non-toxic way to stop the hyperactive immune cells, Perlman said.