Why is my immune system attacking my joints? What is the cause? If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), this is something you have probably wondered at some point. It’s something Dr. Edward Doherty has wondered as well, and is currently studying. Dr. Doherty and his co-investigator, Dr. Pathricia Tilstam are studying key cells that drive inflammation in their 2-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “MIF/CD74 signaling as a new candidate for immunotherapy of rheumatoid arthritis”. With autoimmune disorders like RA, something triggers the immune system to malfunction and attack healthy cells, causing inflammation and disease. Dr. Doherty and Dr. Tilstam are looking for some of the triggers to help develop more effective treatments to stop progression and joint destruction.
Chances are you haven’t heard of COPA syndrome. That’s because it wasn’t identified as a form of arthritis until 2015. So, what is COPA syndrome? It is a rare, inherited autoimmune disease that is caused by mutation of the COPA gene. It usually appears in early childhood. Patients show symptoms of severe lung disease and arthritis.
Dr. Jordan Orange was one member of a large research team that first identified COPA syndrome in 2015. The team’s published work in Nature Genetics won the Arthritis Foundation’s 2015 Howley Award prize for significantly advancing the understanding of an arthritis-related disease.
As an organization, we have always supported and encouraged the active involvement of patients in their own care. Patient perspectives matter greatly when it comes to decisions being made about health care. Their voices are vital in the clinical research process as new medications are being developed and tested.
Patient perspectives play a large role in Dr. Nora Singer’s 3-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project – “Cell-based therapy in systemic onset JIA (sJIA) refractory to conventional “c” and biological “b” DMARDs”. Her project uses stem cells derived from adult cells that are designed to “reset” the immune system. The study will compare the safety and effectiveness of the stem cell treatment to conventional and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Currently, stem cell therapy is experimental in the U.S. and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but is less regulated in other countries.
“You are what you eat” is a phrase we often hear. But how true is it? Dr. Richard F. Loeser, Jr. and his research team are looking at the role of diet in their Arthritis Foundation-funded project “The Role of the Microbiome in Metabolic Osteoarthritis (OA)”.
Different factors play into why a person develops OA, including aging, injury, and being overweight. Diet plays an important role. What you eat can help influence what bacteria (or microbiota) live in your digestive track (gut). This, in turn, can influence what chemicals are released into your body. A healthy gut generally has a more diverse collection of helpful microbiota, while a microbial imbalance can lead to disease.
Big things come in small packages, and Dr. Hongsik Cho is very familiar with this phenomenon. When we first introduced Dr. Cho in August 2016, he was beginning work on his 2-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “A Novel Method of Detecting and Treating Early PTOA Using Smart Nanosome”. He and his team are studying two things: a new drug and a new drug delivery system. The drug, called TPCA-1, works to prevent inflammation caused by post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). The drug delivery system uses small packets called nanosomes that contain TPCA-1 and a fluorescent dye that illuminates the nanosomes’ path once injected into mice.
“Why did my child get arthritis?” This parent-driven question is at the heart of Dr. Jim Jarvis’s juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “Interplay between genetics and epigenetics in polyarticular JIA”.
“This is less about an illness driven by inherited genes and more about how the environment affects gene expression,” explained Dr. Jarvis. “It’s been shown that only about 30 percent of the risk for developing JIA can be attributed to gene variations.”
Venom can kill, but this research proves it could help do the opposite. More specifically, some chemicals found in venom could act as a treatment for disease. These chemicals come from a deadly reptile, but with the help of Dr. Christine Beeton, venom might be able to better the lives of multitudes of people.
Dr. Beeton and her research team are looking at the chemicals found in scorpion venom as a source of potential treatment for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Every day, scientists work toward the advancement of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)treatment. And Dr. C. Michael Stein has made an exciting new discovery that could help these advancements along and predict how specific treatments will work.
Dr. Stein is looking at small molecules that have the potential to cause big problems. His 5-year Arthritis Foundation-funded project, “Extracellular small RNAs in rheumatoid arthritis,” is looking at how small molecules of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood may be markers for different diseases.