Scientists find an important cause of rheumatoid arthritis damage

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In a study from Washington State University, scientists found a protein known as sulfatase-2 that plays a critical role in the damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

A chronic disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own joint tissues, rheumatoid arthritis affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans.

The discovery sheds new light on the molecular processes that drive inflammation seen in rheumatoid arthritis. It could also someday lead to improved treatment of the disease, which currently has no cure.

Tumor necrosis factor-alpha—or TNF-alpha for short—is one of the main inflammatory proteins that drive rheumatoid arthritis and is targeted by many currently available therapies.

However, over time patients can develop a resistance to these drugs, meaning they no longer work for them.

That is why we were looking for previously undiscovered drug targets in TNF-alpha signaling, so basically, proteins that it interacts with that may play a role.

In the study, the team first explored this idea using cells called synovial fibroblasts, which line the joints and keep them lubricated to ensure fluid movement.

Using the joint-lining cells of rheumatoid arthritis patients, they removed sulfatase-2 from one group of cells before stimulating all cells with the inflammatory TNF-alpha.

What they found was that cells lacking sulfatase-2 did not show the same exaggerated inflammatory response to TNF-alpha as cells that were left intact.

This suggests that TNF-alpha relies on sulfatase-2 to drive inflammation because as soon as the team removed sulfatase-2 the inflammatory effects of TNF-alpha were markedly reduced.

Resulting from a series of experiments spanning four years, the researchers’ findings open the door to future animal studies to test the effectiveness of inhibiting sulfatase-2 to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

This could someday lead to the development of new combination therapies that along with other inflammatory proteins would also target sulfatase-2 to prevent bone loss, cartilage damage and deformed joints.

Such therapies could help address the shortcomings of currently available rheumatoid arthritis drugs, many of which come with significant side effects.

If you care about pain, please read studies that cannabis hemp oil may effectively treat chronic neuropathic pain, and how to live pain-free with arthritis.

For more information about pain management, please see recent studies about COVID-19 infection could reduce pain, and results showing pain-free microneedle patch may replace needles for blood draws.

The study was conducted by Salah-Uddin Ahmed et al and published in the journal Cellular & Molecular Immunology.

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