Peptide cures arthritic mice
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory joint disease characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function of joints, typically those in the wrist and hand. The inflammatory process eventually destroys cartilage and bone in the joints. The disease often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. Around 40 million Americans suffer from RA.
The cause of RA is unknown, and treatment is aimed at pain control since no cure is available. However, based on experiments to be reported in the May issue of Nature Medicine (Vol. 7, No. 5), a team of scientists at Complutense University in Spain believe that a neuropeptide could be used to treat the disease effectively.
Using a mouse model of RA, Mario Delgado and colleagues discovered that injections of vasointestinal peptide (VIP) delayed onset of the disease by reducing the severity of arthritis, and preventing joint swelling and destruction of cartilage and bone. VIP-treated mice suffered no remission two weeks after stopping injections and VIP improved disease that was already established.
The scientists believe that VIP works by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines and by modulating the action of inflammatory lymphocytes known as Th1.
Gary Firestein from University of California, San Diego, discusses the findings in a News & Views article. He points to potential pitfalls of using the peptide for therapy, such as gastrointestinal side effects, but ultimately concludes that the risk:benefit ratio is a favorable one since the condition affects so many people.
Dr. Mario Delgado
Department Cell Biology
Faculty of Biology
Tel: +34 91-3944971
Fax: +34 91-3944981
Dr. Gary S. Firestein
Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology
UCSD School of Medicine
La Jolla, California 92093
Tel: +1 858-822-0480
Fax: +1 858-534-2606
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza