Gene therapy promising for rheumatoid arthritis

From the News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton 

           Monday, February 9, 2009


NEW YORK (Reuters) –- Researchers have successfully used gene therapy to substantially reduce joint pain in two patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 


These data “provide the first documented, clinical evidence that local gene therapy can provide symptomatic relief in human RA,” Dr. Christopher H. Evans and co-investigators report in the February issue of Human Gene Therapy. 

RA develops when, for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system turns against itself, causing joints to become swollen and inflamed. If the disease is inadequately controlled, the tissues of the joint are eventually destroyed. There is no cure for RA, which is estimated to affect more than 2 million individuals in the U.S. alone. 

“RA is an extremely painful condition affecting multiple joints throughout the body. Arthritis is a good target for (gene therapy) because the joint is a closed space into which we can inject genes,” Evans, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, noted in a written statement. 

Prior studies have shown that the molecule interleukin-1 plays a key role in the breakdown of cartilage in patients with arthritis. In the current study, tissue was removed from the knuckle joints of two patients with severe RA and a harmless virus was inserted into the tissue cells, in order to serve as a “vector” to shuttle a gene that blocks action of the interleukin-1 protein to the joint. After being placed in culture to grow and replicate, the cells were injected back into the afflicted joints. 

One patient who received gene therapy in two joints experienced an 85 percent reduction in pain in one joint within 1 day, and both joints were pain-free from 1 week onward. “Remarkably,” the researchers report, joints receiving the therapy were protected from flares that occurred during the study period. 

The second patient also responded to gene therapy, with a 70 percent reduction in pain between weeks 2 and 3. 

“Existing treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are costly and need to be administered regularly,” said Evans, adding that in addition to risk of side effects, not all patients respond well. “This paper provides us with the first real evidence that painful symptoms can indeed be lessened through gene therapy.” 

Ongoing work will focus on the use of gene therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis, by far the most common type of arthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, Evans noted. 

 Courtesy of  The Tehran Times  (


About jeanne hambleton

Journalist-wordsmith, former reporter, columnist, film critic, editor, Town Clerk and then fibromite and eventer with 5 conferences done and dusted. Interested in all health and well being issues, passionate about research to find a cure and cause for fibromyalgia. Member LinkedIn. Worked for 4 years with FMA UK as Regional Coordinator for SW and SE,and Chair for FMS SAS the Sussex and Surrey FM umbrella charity and Chair Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK - finding funding for our "cause for a cure" and President and co ordinator of National FM Conferences. Just finished last national annual Fibromyalgia Conference Weekend. This was another success with speakers from the States . Next year's conference in Chichester Park Hotel, West Sussex, will be April 24/27 2015 and bookings are coming in from those who raved about the event every year. I am very busy but happy to produce articles for publication. News Editor of FMS Global News on line but a bit behind due to conference. A workaholic beyond redemption! The future - who knows? Open to offers with payment. Versatile and looking for a regular paid column - you call the tune and I will play the pipes.
This entry was posted in Arthritis, Autoimmune Diseases, Awareness, Britain, Feeds, Fibrohugs, Fibrohugs News, Fibromyalgia, Fibromyalgia News, Fibromyalgia Press Releases, FM, FMS, FMS Global News, gene therapy, Global News, Health, Health Canada, Health Care, Jeanne Hambleton, Journalist UK, London, London UK, London UK Feed, Medical Research, News, News UK, Osteoarthritis, Pain Management, Rheumatism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), RSS, RSS Feeds, Tenderpoints, Uncategorized, US, USA, Washington D.C. City Feed, Washington DC, World, World News, World Wide, Worldwide and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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