English researchers fuse biologics to antibodies to treat rheumatoid arthritis

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have developed antibodies that enable targeted drug delivery to arthritic cartilage, offering relief from rheumatoid arthritis.

"We believe that our targeted approach may become one of the new ways to treat arthritis patients," said university professor and researcher Dr. Ahuva Nissim in a release. "Targeting of biologic drugs to the inflamed joint will result in high local concentrations and low systemic concentrations, increasing efficacy while minimizing side effects. Additionally, a lower total dose may be effective, thereby reducing the cost of treatment."

The antibodies can fuse to drugs that suppress or block inflammation so that the therapies do not cause systematic immunosuppression, Queen Mary says. Current therapies include small molecule disease modifying antirheumatoid drugs and biologics.

In the team's experiment, the biologic anti-inflammatory agent cytokine IL-10 fused to antibodies performed well when injected into experimental mice with induced arthritis in their joints. Crucially, the therapy reduced side effects, which is the main drawback of the systematic approach.

Previously targeted delivery for the condition was achieved via direct injection into the joints, reports Medical News Today. But that approach isn't practical or clinically feasible, for many joints are inaccessible, Nissim's team points out in the paper, published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body attacks the lining of the membranes around bone joints, known as the synovium. Symptoms include pain and joint deformation. It is the second most common form of arthritis after its cousin, osteoarthritis.

In another rheumatoid arthritis breakthrough, Medical News Today also reports that researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have identified a protein that when activated, initiates onset of the disease.

- read the university news release
- here's Medical News Today's take
- here's the journal article
- get more from Nature Rheumatology (sub. req.)