Researchers are currently testing a new drug for osteoarthritis that can lessen the negative effects of an overactive immune system while also preserving the beneficial functions.
According to Medical News Today, the drug can possibly treat conditions related to inflammation, including rheumatoid arthritis.
There are also diseases caused by an overambitious immune system including inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and some forms of arthritis that the medical community groups as autoimmune disorders.
Comparatively, scientists typically consider osteoarthritis a “wear and tear” disease and only recently have they begun to understand how inflammation plays into the condition.
During the study recently published in the journal Inflammopharmacology, University of Liverpool researchers in the U.K. discovered that a new trial drug for osteoarthritis could help control the immune system while making sure its protective functions remain intact.
Focusing on the role of the most common white blood cells, neutrophils, which act as the first line of defense in the immune system, professor Steve Edwards and his team tested the action of a new combination drug called APPA on the cells’ functioning. The test was done in collaboration with AKL Research & Development, which first developed the drug to treat osteoarthritis. Affecting more than 32.5 million adults in the U.S., osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease.
The research team and the University of Liverpool neutrophil expert looked at how APPA impacts neutrophils in detail by isolating them from the blood of healthy volunteers. Then, they treated them with APPA in various concentrations before reviewing the effect on various important cell functions.
In doing so, researchers discovered APPA lowered levels of the signaling molecules cytokine and ROS, the latter of which can cause inflammation. However, the drug didn’t have an effect on how neutrophils could defend against infection by attacking bacteria.
“We have shown that APPA has the potential to dampen down that bad inflammation that causes rheumatic diseases but not impact on the crucial antimicrobial function of neutrophils,” said Robert Moots, University of Liverpool professor of rheumatology. “We have been waiting for too many years for such a selective drug.”
Some cytokines APPA regulates play a role in cytokine storms some researchers have seen in COVID-19 patients, too.
“Our results suggest a prime role for APPA in helping safely modify aggressive immune response, not only in the arthritis that I treat every day but even, potentially, in COVID-19,” Moots said.
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