Scientists at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute have developed an incredible vaccine that has been made to treat and possibly cure rheumatoid arthritis, a disease previously thought to be incurable.
With outstanding results in it’s phase one clinical trial, it has demonstrated that the treatment is extremely safe and has a huge impact on repressing any immune response, says Ranjeny Thomas, a professor at UQD.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes the immune system to attack and destroy healthy joint tissues, which leads to inflammation, pain, and body parts deforming.
The professor has told us that the treatment focuses solely upon the original cause of the disease. “Current therapies only treat the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease,” she says.
TEACHING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
“We have designed a vaccine-style treatment or ‘immunotherapy’ designed specifically for people who have inherited genes with a high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. This type of the disease is called ‘CCP positive’ and is the cause for almost all the cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
“Our immune system is made up of specialized cells that move through blood and tissue, preventing disease and fighting infection by distinguishing between what is the body’s own healthy tissue and what is foreign,” she said.
“This treatment teaches the patient’s immune system to ignore a naturally occurring peptide that is incorrectly identified as ‘foreign,’ which leads to the body producing CCP antibodies and causing inflammation.
“A personalized immunotherapy was prepared for each patient by taking a sample of their blood and extracting a particular type of immune cell called dendritic cells,” Thomas says. “The patient’s dendritic cells were then challenged with the ‘foreign’ peptide and an immune system modulator. The treated dendritic cells were then injected back into the patient.”
Thomas says a single injection of the patient’s own immune-modified dendritic cells was found to be safe and to help suppress the immune response in rheumatoid arthritis. “This in turn was associated with reduced inflammation,” she says.
“At this stage, the technique would not be ideal for widespread treatment or prevention of rheumatoid arthritis because it’s costly and time-consuming,” adds Thomas.
“However, the promising results of this trial lay the foundations for the development of a more cost-effective, clinically-practical vaccine technology that could deliver similar outcomes for patients.”
Professor Ranjeny Thomas is working on technology alongside Dendright Pty Ltd (a UniQuest company) The Janssen Biotech CO. is also on the job…
If the technology is successful, it could possibly remove the disease from patients with rheumatoid arthritis also could work on other “big problem” auto immune system sicknesses such as type 1 diabetes.