A Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Mice: BIM

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.

Recommended reading:

Kelly Young

Kelly Young is an advocate providing ways for patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. Through her writing, speaking, and use of social media, she is building a more accurate awareness of Rheumatoid disease aka Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creating ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and bringing recognition and visibility to the Rheumatoid patient journey. In 2009, Kelly created Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior, a comprehensive website about RA of about 950 pages and writes periodically for other newsletters and websites. Kelly served on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board. There are over 42,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook Fan page. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is the mother of five, a home-schooler, Bible teacher, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She has lived over nine years with unrelenting Rheumatoid disease. See also http://www.rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

34 thoughts on “A Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Mice: BIM

  • February 25, 2010 at 9:04 am
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    That would be great if I didn’t have to poison my body to get rid of this disease!

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    • February 25, 2010 at 9:34 am
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      Someday! We’ve already come so far in our lifetime. It’s a happy thought, isn’t it?

      Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 9:26 am
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    I sure agree, Krista. I’ve tried for years to avoid taking the drugs. Unfortunately, so many heath issues are handled by drugs that can potentially harm us or even cause death. I wish there were better alternatives. It would be miraculous if this new research allows us to start living normal lives again.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 9:39 am
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      “Start living normal lives again…” I think it would depend on the patient. 75% of the mice had their RA halted. But previous damage from RA would not be erased. Then there is the other 25% – I’m sure they are asking why it did not cure them. RA is so complicated & maddening, isn’t it?

      Still, it’s hopeful to see that they are looking for cures. :rainbow: It will be better for our children/ grandchildren…

      Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 9:40 am
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    What an encouraging thought!! I am actually so pleased to hear that thus far there has been no adverse recations by the mice! This is so very hopeful! Thank you Kelly for sharing this exciting news.
    ~Theresa

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  • February 25, 2010 at 10:01 am
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    I’ve read about this potential treatment, and also others in the works. I’ve read in so mnay different places that we are literally about 10 years from a cure…Lots of researchers are arriving at exciting points in the hopes of curing RA, and they are metting every year to discuss their findings. In some cases, they are finding that one set of research can aid another. Thus, many believe the cure is already out there, and it is being developed as I type this. In fact, there is a dr. with a blog who does nothing on his blog but summarizes the newest RA research. He says he does this b/c we are on the verge of a cure, and he wants to document it.

    Is he right? Are they all? I’m not sure. I want to believe it, but I’m also like Kelly…even if they do cure it, how much of my life will I get back at this point? And for me, the cure would come just as I was exiting the phase where I may want to conceive and raise another child. Seems unfair…but then again, so much about this disease is unfair.

    Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 10:08 am
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      From what I’ve heard ten years is not even close. It will be a long time.

      BUT!! It’s still not how it was for my grandad or Mary Lee…

      Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 10:01 am
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    It’s sad to say…the article/results were submitted in February 2009, accepted in October 2009 and finally published in February 2010. Make you wonder what’s been happening with this for the last year! Have any clinical trials started? Any preliminary information available? (I doubt it.)

    Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 10:05 am
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      Kevin, that is the reason it took me half a day to do this little post. It was so confounding.

      Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 11:45 am
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      This stuff can be infuriatingly slow – a year between submission and publication is quite common, actually. The people who reviewed the paper want editing and often whole new experiments, so it’s a process! It does seem like something that could be an exciting new therapy, but it would probably still be something that patients have to take long term. But any new treatment is huge for patients who don’t get relief from the current therapies! There’s a lot more testing to do before clinical trials, but I can almost guarantee that they’re thinking of it!

      Reply
      • February 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm
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        Thank you. So many people get discouraged and start to say that there is no one searching for RA cures / better treatments. As I read many postings of this BIM molecule across the net, I was shocked at reader comments people left on the articles. They claimed that the FDA or pharmaceutical companies are “hiding” real cures so that they can continue to make billions from Biologics. It’s good to hear the other side.

        Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 10:09 am
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    Encouraging and scary all at the same time. As much as I would love nothing better than to have this RA cured, I don’t know if I’d be a willing participant in this clinical trial (if and when it comes about). Call me paranoid, but it caused me great anxiety just reading about it – what if this BIM interacted with a person’s individual body chemistry and went on a rampage killing off too many immune cells. Would that put us into a stage like AIDS (with no immune system left)? Sorry, just expressing my thoughts…..

    Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 10:10 am
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      Oops – forgot to click on the Notification button – I’m interested to hear what others think about this new development.

      Reply
    • February 25, 2010 at 10:18 am
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      Important point. I’m probably not going first in any trial either… 😕

      Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 10:56 am
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    Sounds great and I don’t mean to seem like a pessimist but I have to wonder how this would reverse the damage done to joints, undoing damage already done seems like pipe dreaming to me.

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    • February 25, 2010 at 11:31 am
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      No, Bud. As I commented to Marina above, I do not think previous damage that occured could all be reversed. Very good point. Getting RA diagnosed & treated early will always be the most important thing. Better treatments will help, but not turn back time. This would be a way to stop the progression and inflammation.

      Reply
  • February 25, 2010 at 7:45 pm
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    I had similar thoughts, Doreen. Call me paranoid, but I would be afraid to have little nanotech suicide bomber thingies injected into my body, unless they were THOROUGHLY tested and proven already. Kinda sounds like a scifi movie – “Revenge of the Nanobombers.” :O

    Reply
  • February 26, 2010 at 2:15 am
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    Thanks for the update Kel. There are also safety issues related to nanoparticles themselves.

    Reply
  • February 26, 2010 at 8:53 am
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    What a fantastic miracle that would be!!

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  • February 26, 2010 at 8:58 am
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    Lets hope that this is the real deal for RA and we wil see a “cure”! Thanks Kelly.

    Reply
  • February 26, 2010 at 8:58 am
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    Thanks Kelly! I hope this works. I pray for everyone with this.

    Reply
  • February 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm
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    Kelly, Northwestern University is in the same town that I was born and raised 🙂 I lived about 2 miles from NWU. And as always…. awesome post 🙂

    Reply
  • March 9, 2010 at 9:31 am
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    Thanks for this…very exciting!

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  • November 3, 2010 at 10:47 am
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    Where do I sign up? I can’t take the pain anymore

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  • November 3, 2010 at 11:19 am
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    Hi Kelly,

    This article is very encouraging…at least we get to know that there are people doing research on how to cure RA… :-))

    Just as the others commented, it is kinda scary. As of now, we don’t really know the side effects of some of the meds and biologics we’re taking…how much more when we get injected with this BIM that would do the “bombing”. :-/

    But we should still be hopeful… :pray:

    Thanks for sharing…God bless! 🙂

    Reply
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  • December 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm
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    Hi Kelly,
    It is very encouraging to read this post…Do you know if there is any update on this research…
    Wish you a very happy Xmas and a very happy new year 🙂

    Reply
  • February 23, 2011 at 9:38 am
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    This is very good news. The mice in our house are very rheumaticky. I would love to see them cured.I spend a fortune on quarter inch condoms.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm
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    Amazing. Yes, I have had the same experience, too. I have little swelling, but I am always in pain. For the past two years, I have asked my rheumatologist to put me on ANY drug. He says no, that I am in total and true remission and have no signs of inflammation. When I tell him my knee hurts and feels inflamed and hot, he tells me that he can see none of that.

    But yesterday my left foot was in so much pain that I cannot walk on it. I spoke over the phone with another doctor and he told me that it is unacceptable that I have not had an RA factor, CRP or any blood work done in the past two years. He told me if he has an RA patient complain of joint pain, he conducts these tests. So…he ordered up the blood work for me today and he had me go on 20 mg. of prednisone for the next five days to see if I feel significantly better. He said he is prescribing the prednisone not only for its therapeutic qualities, but for its diagnostic qualities as well. He told me if I feel significantly better on the prednisone, I should present that to my rheumatologist so that I can be put on methotrexate.

    By the way, here is my history of the disease in a nutshell. Back in 2000, I got a hernia operation. That was when my first flare-up occurred. My RA factor and SED rate were through the roof and I simply could not button my own shirt buttons or raise my leg even a couple of inches to get into the shower. I was sent to a rheumatologist, who prescribed prednisone and methotrexate. I did my own research into the disease and I met with people who had gone into remission. Everybody I talked to and met, including James Coburn (yes, he and I met and spoke about the disease) had all done the same thing. I had met with about 18 individuals and they all went into remission by fasting. I was extremely skeptical at first, but I tried and within 48 hours all my symptoms went away. When I started eating again, however, my pain and symptoms would come back. But the pain got much better the longer I kept up with this long-term, periodic fasting. My rheumatologist said that he was amazed, and he gave me a green light to stay off meds. Then, in 2010, I had another surgery (unrelated to RA) and I got another flare-up. I was prescribed prednisone and methotrexate. I took the methotrexate for about 4 months while I did my fasting again. Sure enough, the fasting worked a second time. My pain, symptoms and blood-work all went to normal. But…this time around, I felt like I had low-level inflammation going on. I tried to convince my doctor to put me on low-dose methotrexate, but he said that that is not necessary. So now we will see what my blood-work says and how the prednisone makes me feel.

    I would appreciate any advise or comments you have, and I cannot stress how beneficial long-term, periodic fasting was for me. For legal reasons, I cannot recommend it to you, but there are many medical studies out there (6 of which I have shown my rheumatologist and he told me they were valid studies and that he was amazed at the findings) and they all speak about the benefits of fasting. One study concluded, “long-term, periodic fasting ought to be including in the armamentarium physician’s use against RA”. I stress again that I am stating that this was my experience, and I am not advocating its use for other people. Have you heard of others going into remission by fasting?

    Reply
  • January 18, 2013 at 12:33 am
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    Oh if only this works and they get it out soon. Nothing has worked for me so far and the damage is becoming great and the pain too much to bear. I pray they can figure this out quickly.

    Reply
  • July 19, 2015 at 5:52 am
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    How do I sign up for clinical trials ?

    Reply

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