Scientists have developed a new drug which they claim could ‘reboot’ the immune system of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a single dose.

The drug is modelled on the body’s own natural defences to combat the inflammation that can destroy joints.

Researchers from King’s College London and clinicians from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, are to start the first human trial of BiP — binding immunoglobulin protein — involving up to 50 patients.

The protein is part of the body’s normal anti—inflammatory response, but it is found in insufficient quantities in the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis to have a therapeutic effect, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

Previous work by the team indicates that giving an intravenous dose will quickly boost a patient’s anti—inflammatory response.

A single infusion appears to ‘reset’ their immune system and may give a long lasting effect.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain and swelling, stiffness, fatigue, and disability.

“If BiP works as we expect then a single dose should be sufficient to put patients into remission for months. The most important thing is that our patients will have a better quality of life for longer,” said Gabriel Panayi, professor emeritus of rheumatology at King’s College London, and honorary consultant rheumatologist at Guy’s and St Thomas.

“This trial is the culmination of 15 years of work — it’s very exciting to be at this stage,” Dr Valerie Corrigall of King’s College London said.

“Using patients’ own immune system to help protect against the disease is a new approach to treatment for rheumatoid arthritis,” Corrigall said.

“As well as being a very promising therapy, we’ve purposefully designed BiP to be more cost effective than biologic therapies which work well but are extremely expensive,” Corrigall added.

(This article was published on February 8, 2013)
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