A Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Mice: BIM

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Tombstone Macrophage

“Immortal” immune rebels attack Rheumatoid Arthritis patients

In healthy people, immune cells proliferate because of the presence of invading bacteria or viruses. After they have done their work, the extra immune cells kick the bucket. However, in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, this natural militia continues to multiply. Immune cells called macrophages build up in the patient, producing cytokines and causing the painful destructive symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Methotrexate is used as a Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment because it is an anti-metabolite. It inhibits this un-natural reproduction. Methotrexate is no cure for RA. However, it is useful in repressing inflammation and pannus (thickening synovial tissue) to some degree in many RA patients.

Potential “ghostly” cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The February issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism reports about a molecule called “BIM” which has been studied in relation to cancer. BIM enables cells to expire gracefully. It causes macrophages to self-destruct.

BIM is being called the “ghost” molecule or “suicide” molecule because it sneaks into macrophage cells. Then it triggers apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death. It is healthy that cells die and be replaced.

In examination of Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, BIM was found to exist in lesser amounts. “The expression of BIM was reduced in RA synovial tissue as compared with controls, particularly in macrophages.” Researchers proposed that BIM has potential as a Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment.

It would be an entirely different approach to treatment than any current medicine. Biologics attack specific cytokines. Methotrexate slows reproduction of cells. This conception is closer to a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis than current treatments – if it works in human immune systems and if it can be delivered into human cells via nanotechnology and if it is found to be safe. Some big “ifs.”

Could BIM become a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Harris Perlman of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine successfully used artificial BIM as a suicide bomber in experiments on mice with Rheumatoid Arthritis. For the majority of the mice, BIM either prevented or cured RA.

Perlman told Northwestern University Newscenter, “This new therapy stopped the disease cold in 75 percent of the mice.” Perlman says BIM has “potential for creating an entirely new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.” His team was pleased they “didn’t see any toxicity.”

Note: Hear Perlman’s comment on this video at Insider Medicine explaining the BIM study.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 7:09 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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