New immunotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis successful in mice

A promising immunotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis is proving successful in mouse models. Rheumatoid arthritis, known as rheumatism, has so far had no effective treatment. Research of Daniƫlle ter Braake of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a step in the right direction. On May 21, 2024, ter Braake will defend her PhD thesis at Utrecht University.

The new technique uses nanoparticles, which influence the immune system in a very targeted way. The treatment proves effective not only in preventing rheumatoid arthritis, but also in treating symptoms in mice.

Existing treatments

Current therapies for rheumatoid arthritis focus on improving patients' quality of life by relieving symptoms. The downside of these drugs is that they do not target and affect the entire immune system. As a result, patients become susceptible to other diseases. The so-called antigen-specific immunotherapies from ter Braake and colleagues' research could provide an excellent solution for this.

From mouse model to humans

"When you place one puzzle piece on one side, ten more come loose on the other", ter Braake says of autoimmunity research. "A treatment for humans is still far away. More research is needed for that. However, the technique found is a fundamental step in immunology to make treatments better in the long run."

Scientists can now research whether this therapy also works for other autoimmune models

The nanoparticles are an important factor. They act as tiny envelopes for the drug and ensure that exactly the right link in the immune system is targeted. Thus, the treatment prevents harmful side effects to the immune system. This principle is promising and can now be tested for other autoimmune models.