Are you or anyone you know, a family member, loved one or friend suffering from rheumatoid arthritis? This could be a very devastating experience for you and your family, as this illness takes a lot of courage to deal with because of the severe pain caused by the swollen and stiff joints from the hands, feet, shoulders, knees and cervical spine. Over time the stiffness can lead to erosion of the joint’s surface and eventually the loss of function.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory illness that can also affect tissues and organs.
The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it is believed that genetics and autoimmunity plays an important role in its progression. It usually affects women 3 times more than men and the onset usually begins at the age of 40 and 50.
RA being a debilitating illness has various treatment modalities available, you can choose from physical therapy, pain management, occupational therapy, nutritional therapy and alternative medicine.
The bad news is, RA is an irreversible disease for now, that is why symptomatic treatment to deal with the pain is the primary focus, but no cure is still available for the disease itself. Another bad news is the use of medications like steroids and analgesics for a long period of time can cause severe complications due to a very poor immune system.
These poor outcomes from the treatment of RA paved the way for a group of scientists to study the human immune system in relation to RA. It is a fact that healthy immune cells act as the soldiers in fighting bacteria and viruses and they naturally die after completing their task.
In the case of RA however, the immune cells lack a certain “Bim” or structure that gives the order for them to self-destruct after a task. What happens is, they remain alive and mutates and cause destruction in the other healthy immune cells.
What the researchers did was to create a synthetic imitation molecule of the “Bim” and labeled it Casper the Ghost or Suicide Molecule and tested them on rats with RA. The clinical trial on rats was successful, the suicide molecules remained undetected by other mutated cells and once the suicide molecules detect the mutated ones, they trigger them to self-destruct.
The objective of the suicide molecules is to decrease the number of mutated immune cells that causes the symptoms and the RA disease to progress. Although this is not yet tested on humans, the researchers are very optimistic that it will create a new path in the control and management of rheumatoid arthritis in humans.