A lab-made version of a human protein alleviates symptoms of both acute and chronic arthritis in mice and could be the basis for a new arthritis drug for people, report scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The protein prevents the assembly of a cell surface receptor, thus blocking transmission of chemical signals that lead to arthritis symptoms.
Investigators from NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunology, led by Michael Lenardo, M.D., published their findings in the October issue of Nature Medicine, now available online. The idea that the protein, called pre-ligand assembly domain protein or PLAD, might play a role in thwarting the joint inflammation characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis — one of the most common autoimmune diseases — grew out of their research on a very rare autoimmune disease called autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS).
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