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A step forward for arthritis research

12 February 2013

A step forward for arthritis research

Researchers have developed a new drug which, they claim, can combat rheumatoid arthritis.  The drug is modelled on the body’s natural defences and is actually part of the normal anti-inflammatory system but is found in insufficient quantities in people living with the condition.

A study will focus on 50 patients, the first human trial of BiP – binding immunoglobulin protein, to test the response to the drug.  In previous trials a single dose appeared to ‘reset’ the immune system and shows hope to provide a long lasting effect.

Gabriel Panayi, professor emeritus of rheumatology at King’s College London, said, “If BiP works as we expect then a single dose should be sufficient to put patients into remission for months.  The most important thing is that our patients will have a better quality of life for longer. As a bonus, they should need fewer appointments which will free up valuable healthcare resources.”

Dr Valerie Corrigall of King’s College London said, “This trial is the culmination of 15 years of work – it’s very exciting to be at this stage.  Using patients’ own immune system to help protect against the disease is a new approach to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.  As well as being a
very promising therapy, we’ve purposefully designed BiP to be more cost effective than biologic therapies which work well but are extremely expensive.”

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK charity, which is funding the two-year trial, said, “We’re very excited that the culmination of several years of support has resulted in a potential new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.  This work is an example of where research funded by Arthritis Research UK has been translated into a possible new treatment that could come into clinical care within a reasonable time frame.”