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A promising new approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis using binding immunoglobulin protein (BiP) therapy has shown its potential in a new clinical study.
Carried out by King's College London and Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust Hospital, the research has indicated that BiP-based treatment could represent a useful intervention for patients who have failed to respond to conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
How it works
BiP belongs to a class of compounds known as human endoplasmic reticulum-resident stress proteins, and has been shown in preclinical studies to offer anti-inflammatory properties.
This is a different mode of action compared to DMARDs and other established therapies, meaning it could be of benefit for those who are unable to benefit from treatment with the commonly-used drugs that form the backbone of current therapeutic strategies.
For this study, published in the medical journal Rheumatology, 24 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who had failed treatment with one or more DMARDs were assigned to receive placebo or various doses of BiP as a single intravenous infusion over one hour, prior to a 12-week period of clinical, rheumatological and laboratory assessments.
The possible benefits
It was shown that patients receiving five mg and 15 mg doses of BiP achieved signs of remission and lower concentrations in their blood of key inflammatory biomarkers.
Moreover, no infusion reactions or serious adverse drug reactions were noted, with no BiP-related toxicities. This indicates that this new type of treatment can be both safe and effective for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
The researchers concluded: "BiP is safe in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis; some patients had clinical and biological improvements in rheumatoid arthritis activity. BiP merits further study."
Arthritis Research UK's view
Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, said: "Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common long-term arthritis conditions. It affects over 400,000 people and attacks what it means to live. For many people with arthritis, DMARDs can be effective at reducing pain, swelling and stiffness over a period of weeks or months, but many don't respond to this treatment.
"The results of this study are really promising. This research is at a relatively early stage, and studies would need to carried out on a larger scale to ensure this is a safe and effective treatment for people with arthritis, but this is an exciting piece of research that could lead to an alternative treatment that may induce remission and have less side effects."
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