Switching off the process underlying rheumatoid arthritis

After 20 years, researchers work towards switching off the process underlying rheumatoid arthritis.

Although the onset may be much earlier, new cases regularly arise in the elderly population and as there is currently no cure, it leads to a chronic, disabling condition. The most common management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the use of drugs that suppress the autoimmune response in which the body attacks its own tissues.

At the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, we have found a technique that has the potential to lead to a cure. We took cells from the patient’s blood, which was then manipulated in the laboratory to create tolerogenic cells. We then gave these back to the patients. This should have the effect of switching off the autoimmune processes involved in RA. We can carry out the whole process in laboratories and clinical research facility.

Research into rheumatoid arthritis is supported by the musculoskeletal disease theme as part of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre. This them is led by Professor John Isaacs, who comments:

“Our research aims to modulate the disease without the need for long-term immune suppressive therapy. This is a much more suitable approach for the elderly population who have other diseases and more susceptible to side effects.”