Will CD4 Lead to a Rheumatoid Arthritis Cure? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Will CD4 Lead to a Rheumatoid Arthritis Cure?

With Rheumatoid Arthritis, cure is the bombshell C word

The “C” word was being tossed around on the internet this last week. The Daily Record headline was one example: “A CURE for rheumatoid arthritis could be a step closer after a breakthrough…” This is not a word commonly used with Rheumatoid Arthritis: cure. So, what’s the big deal?

Immunity expert writer Catarina Amorim answers in Rheumatoid Arthritis – Can New Treatment Spell the Beginning of a Cure? “SGK mice treated with the anti-CD4 antibodies at the same time that RA is induced show no symptoms of disease. In contrast, control mice, injected with an irrelevant antibody, suffer full blown arthritis… In animals already showing symptoms, when the antibody is injected the treatment reduces disease severity and its rate of destruction, but it is not able to stop it.”

It could be dangerous to lose those helper cells, but that is not how CD4 antibodies work. Catarina explains: “During the transplantation studies it was suggested that they did not delete the aggressive CD4 T cells… but, instead, activated a “protective” subgroup of CD4 T cells called Foxp3 cells (or regulatory T cells), which are known to suppress potentially dangerous immune responses, including those responsible for autoimmunity.” Wonderful!

The big deal is a suggestion that the immune system can be turned off so that autoimmune diseases stop their attack against patients. Researchers in Portugal treated mice which had a form of chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis. Cure is the word they use because the effect on the mice appeared to be permanent. “Researcher Luis Graca commented: Anti-CD4 treatment appears to be able – at least in these experimental systems in mice – to achieve immune tolerance, leading to long-term benefit even when the drug is no longer present in the organism and maintaining the immune system competence to eliminate other immune challenges, like infection,” according to Arthritis Research UK.

Quick info about CD4 and a Rheumatoid Arthritis cure

  • What is CD4 anyway? A pretty readable answer from Wiki Genes is here: CD4 – CD4 Antigen.
  • There are studies and treatment trials for other antibodies which may regulate or obstruct autoimmune diseases. One example is PG102, being tested on Psoriatic Arthritis. I know how desperately we need a cure; we may not be very close to one, but it is being pursued. Scientists are searching for a “mechanism to reset autoreactive immunity.”It’s a good exercise to Google “CD cells Rheumatoid Arthritis” – trying to read through a few articles shows why it’s so difficult to cure Rheumatoid Arthritis; the immune system is very complicated.
  • The AIDS virus destroys large numbers of CD4 cells which are essential helper cells.
  • Most studies about Rheumatoid Arthritis use mice with a fake Rheumatoid Arthritis, a collagen induced RA. It was considered important that this study used mice which are bred to have a chronic genetic form of mice Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • I was impressed that the writers and editors of several articles I read for this post treated Rheumatoid Arthritis as a serious illness for which a cure is a matter of urgency, unlike Woman’s Day Magazine or ABC News.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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16 thoughts on “Will CD4 Lead to a Rheumatoid Arthritis Cure?

  • June 8, 2010 at 8:03 am

    hi kelly,
    in my biology class, i have read about cd4…..
    bt there i dint even bother…..
    its related with cell mediated immunity
    cd4 is a type of T-lymphocytes
    cd4 ia also cuase of hiv… :shutmouth:
    dnt know exactly…..
    bt was interesting to see smthing here realated with my subject…..

    • June 8, 2010 at 10:56 am

      Yes, isn’t it funny how our eyes glaze over at first & it sounds so boring? And then it’s so hard to understand & we are straining to see how it works. :p

    • June 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

      oh, yeah – my daughter took biology in college las semester & she was sitting on the edge of her seat when they talked about the joints!

      • June 9, 2010 at 1:56 am

        yeah.i have read too about joints..there types….
        diseases n ra too….
        there was written extremely painful joint movements in RA
        then i thought my book to be understanding than my doctor……
        i was too interested to listen Wat teacher says about ra..but he dint talked abt it in detail..
        said wherever its rheumatic..it means no cause known..
        so there was very less to discuss…
        whereas in other diseases there are pathogens,incubation[time taken by pathogen to cause disease in body after arrival] period n all..
        u know y tb testing is done with mtx??
        i hv found a relation…

        u know the bateria is present in so many…but is inactive..as long as bodys immunity is strong..n nutrition status is good..
        but when immunity becomes too low such as in aids …then it attacks..
        thats y most of the deaths are not because of aids…..but becoz of tb or other infection..
        i hv started loving biology…. 🙂 :shout: 🙂

        • June 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

          Keep going Rachel. Maybe you can be a doc! You would be a great one!

  • June 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Dear Kelly,

    Thanks again for bringing us the latest Good News–and I do mean to capitalize that. When I read about the latest research on your blog, I’m encouraged–not just because of the advances, but because the scientists keep trying, just like we “keep on keepin’ on” everyday with this disease.

    I look for new entries on your blog and the blogs of many of our sisters every morning as I’m sipping my tea and waiting for my joints to loosen up. Then I read a little Scripture and pray. It may sound odd, but the online camraderie among us RA bloggers has become a part of my morning devotions. From you and our sisters, I learn to be grateful in the midst of pain and to lean into hope.

    Thanks for being there doing what you do.



  • June 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I wonder if this could work for AS too, let’s cure RA AND AS and Lupus and JRA and so on 🙂

    • June 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      Yes, I’d be hopeful for AS along w/RA and the rest. The CD40 they are testing on PA right now w/ the PG102 in the article & the CD4 antibodies are focused on altering the autoimmune response. Even MS and Crohns…

  • June 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Let’s cure everything! CHARGE!!!! OK, I’m awake now but what a splendid dream… :laugh: God Bless! :rose:

  • June 9, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Thank you Kelly for giving hope. Prayer does work and we will just continue to pray that these scientists find the cure-it is such a relief to know that God is still at work even if we don’t see it.
    Thanks for all your endless hard work.

  • June 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I think if they crack one autoimmune disease, the rest will follow. There must be some common root to all of them. I wish immune systems had a ctrl + alt + del command.

  • June 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    So what does this mean practically? Have they talked about the next step, whether there will be human testing or is it something that is ten years away? Interested to get to grips with the time line on these things. As i know they can take a while to start human testing.
    Also, did they mention how they would navigate the effectiveness of the treatment once arthritis is established. I take it otherwise they’d be treating people with family history’s of RA to prevent before the onset.


    • June 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      Mary, I haven’t read about human trials yet, but I’m sure if it looks feasable, they are working on that. The similar approach mentioned in the post is in trials for PA already and there is another related one that I plan to write about soon. The human trials process is long because there are so many steps required and it takes a lot of time. I’ve read the whole process, once a treatment approach / ingredient is “discovered” is about 15 years until it is on the market. I don’t know whether it could become both a treatment and a vaccine for those w/ RA genes. Maybe? If you want to look for more info on CD4, Google search the key words here in the post or in the articles linked to. Then you keep following the breadcrumb trail. 😀

  • July 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm


    I was wondering if you have any information on the stem cell treatments going on? there isn’t much online so was wondering if it’s something that’s being seriously pursued.


  • July 13, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Recently, Remicade treatment was stopped after 10 years due to a lung infection of Mycobacterium Abscessus, a NTB bacterium. What treatment can I now use to control the RA which I’ve had for 30+ years. Thank you for this forum.


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