Greek researchers are leading a team of international scientists who have found a new mechanism that causes rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that may lead to effective treatments of this chronic autoimmune condition.
Teams from numerous research institutions including the Biomedical Sciences Research Center “Alexander Fleming” in Athens, Greece, the University of Cologne in Germany, the VIB institute and Ghent University in Belgium, and the University of Tokyo in Japan, have been looking at mouse models of this autoinflammatory condition. They have been studying a key mechanism, which, they think, may help specialists learn to prevent cases of RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition characterised mainly by pain and stiffness in the joints due to inflammation in the joint lining.
Some of the main risk factors for RA are age (people over 60 are more at risk), sex (this condition is more common in women), and the expression of specific genes.
Although this condition is widespread, scientists know little about what actually causes it. This means that doctors often find it challenging to suggest effective preventive strategies.
“From a therapeutic perspective, this is a very important finding, since it suggests that drugs inhibiting cell death could be effective in the treatment of RA, at least in a subset of patients where macrophage death could provide the underlying trigger,” says co-author Professor Manolis Pasparakis.
The research team includes biologist George Kollias and Dr. Marietta Armakas of “Alexander Fleming”, as well as Professor Manolis Pasparakis, who is the head of the study and Dr. Apostolos Polykratis, first author of the scientific publication.