New inhibitor drug seen for arthritis, lupus

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Researchers in Australia have designed a drug which appears effective in treating arthritis in mice, and they hope it can be used to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus in people.

In an article published in Immunology and Cell Biology, the scientists said they zeroed in on a certain human receptor, FcgammaRIIa, which appears to be linked to the development of auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Using the structure of the receptor, they designed small chemical molecules that blocked the workings of the receptor.

They went on to test the molecules in laboratory mice which carried the human receptor, making them very susceptible to these inflammatory diseases. The molecules appeared to work better than two other commonly-used drugs.

“The team find that the new drug suppresses disease for longer than either of the current commonly-used drugs - methotrexate and anti-CD3,” the researchers wrote.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder with unknown causes. It causes inflammation and tissue damage in joints and tendon sheaths. Treatments for the disease are aimed at relieving pain and swelling, slowing disease progression and preventing cartilage and bone destruction.

Lupus is a disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissues, bringing inflammation and tissue damage.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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