Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should be considered a condition, rather than a single disease, says new research by scientists from VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) and Ghent University. Researchers believe that although many affected by severe forms of RA experience common pain symptoms, the reasons for their illness are not identical.
RA can be extremely painful and finding the appropriate medicine for it is not always easy, according to Mohamed Lamkanfi from the VIB and Ghent University. Until now, RA was believed to be a single disease, however the research shows that it is most likely a syndrome. This observation could be valuable, because it might provide more case-specific methods for treating RA. Moreover, medicines that are used to tackle RA can be chosen according to the condition of each individual, Lamkanfi added.
Also, scientists have considered that inflammasomes play a role in the development and progression of RA. Inflammasomes are protein complexes that form part of people´s immune system. Their role in RA inflammation was successfully validated by the scientists, who used a specific mouse model developed by their VIB colleagues.
Using this method, the researchers blocked inflammasomes and successfully tackled the development of RA. Furthermore, inflammasomes produce a protein named interleukin-1, which is involved in inflammatory reactions. By cutting interleukin´s effects, the scientists were successful in curing mice.
Lamkanfi and his colleague Lieselotte Vande Walle believe that the model could be very useful in future research on the correlation between inflammasomes and RA. They think that the subject requires more attention, since RA affects 1% to 2% of the global population. As many as five million people suffer from RA in Europe alone.