New RA Vaccine: Hope for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that predominantly targets the joints. It is estimated that 1.3 million Americans suffer from this type of arthritis. There is no known cure for RA, but according to the findings of a new study, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a protein-based vaccine that can aid RA prevention.
The autoimmune nature of RA tricks the immune system into attacking healthy tissue in the body, and this process can often escalate into a chronic state. Since RA is incurable, the current medical practice focuses on pain management by combining medication with other approaches. RA patients are recommended to engage in physical activity, balance their body weight and be very careful not to injure the affected joints.
The study in question examines how the 14-3-3-zeta protein influences arthritis development in rats. One of the authors, Dr. Ritu Chakravarti, explains that the protein is an antigen, which means that it can stimulate an immune response.
The study was conducted on experimental rats which had artificially induced arthritis and could not produce the 14-3-3-zeta protein. It was revealed the lack of protein made these rats more susceptible to developing severe symptoms.
The vaccine was distributed to rats with an already developed condition to test if 14-3-3-zeta antibodies would help treat and reduce the symptoms, but no progress was made. In turn, rats that received one shot of the vaccine before developing any symptoms, and an additional shot one week after inducing arthritis, showed a stronger immune response as their symptoms were less severe.
Dr. Chakravarti predicts that future research should involve medical trials on humans and efforts to decipher the impact of the 14-3-3-zeta protein on arthritis. She is hopeful that the success of this experiment might open the door to preventing other muscle and bone diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.
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