The scientists found that “rheumatoid arthritis totally disappeared” in animals that were given the vaccine – creating hope for a functional vaccine
A team at The University of Toledo have created an experimental vaccine, which could be the turning point for a rheumatoid arthritis – a painful autoimmune disease which currently has no cure. It is estimated that this form of arthritis impacts atleast 1% of the global population.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It would be revolutionary” if this works
“In spite of its high prevalence, there is no cure and we don’t entirely know what brings it on. This is true of nearly all autoimmune diseases, which makes treating or preventing them so difficult,” said Dr Ritu Chakravarti, an assistant professor in the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the paper’s lead author.
“If we can successfully get this vaccine into the clinic, it would be revolutionary.”
So, how did the researchers discover this?
Dr Chakravarti has studied a protein called 14-3-3 zeta for years. Their work includes its role in immune pathologies, including aortic aneurysms and interleukin-17— a cytokine associated with autoimmune diseases. Because of this connection, the team focused on the protein as a potential trigger for rheumatoid arthritis.
Instead, they found the opposite – removing the protein created severe early onset arthritis.
Working under a new theory that the 14-3-3 zeta protein protects against rheumatoid arthritis, the team developed a protein-based vaccine using purified 14-3-3 zeta protein grown in a bacterial cell.
“The potential here is huge”
“We have not made any really big discoveries toward treating or preventing rheumatoid arthritis in many years,” Dr Chakravarti said.
“Our approach is completely different. This is a vaccine-based strategy based on a novel target that we hope can treat or prevent rheumatoid arthritis. The potential here is huge.”