Can An Arthritis Vaccine Be In Our Future?

Can An Arthritis Vaccine Be In Our Future?

By Staff.

Researchers are editing stem cells in an effort to fight arthritis with the goal of possibly creating a vaccine that targets inflammation in joints.

They’ve been successful in rewiring mouse stem cells to fight inflammation caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions.  These stem cells, known as SMART (Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy), develop into cartilage cells that produce anti-inflammatory drug that may replace arthritic cartilage and protect joints from additional damage.

“Our goal is to package the rewired stem cells as a vaccine for arthritis, which would deliver an anti-inflammatory drug to an arthritic joint but only when it is needed,” said Farshid Guilak, PhD, the paper’s senior author and a professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. “To do this, we needed to create a ‘smart’ cell.”

Many current drugs used to treat arthritis like Enbrel, Humira and Remicade, attack an inflammation-promoting molecule called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). These drugs are given systemically rather than targeted to joints, which can lead to various unwanted side effects.

“We want to use our gene-editing technology as a way to deliver targeted therapy in response to localized inflammation in a joint, as opposed to current drug therapies that can interfere with the inflammatory response through the entire body,” Guilak added. “If this strategy proves to be successful, the engineered cells only would block inflammation when inflammatory signals are released, such as during an arthritic flare in that joint.”

The researchers also encoded the stem/cartilage cells with genes that made the cells light up when responding to inflammation, so the scientists could tell when the cells were responding. Recently, Guilak’s team has begun testing the engineered stem cells in mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

If the work can be replicated in animals and then developed into a clinical therapy, the engineered cells or cartilage grown from stem cells would respond to inflammation by releasing a biologic drug — the TNF-alpha inhibitor — that would protect the synthetic cartilage cells that Guilak’s team created and the natural cartilage cells in specific joints.

“When these cells see TNF-alpha, they rapidly activate a therapy that reduces inflammation,” Guilak explained. “We believe this strategy also may work for other systems that depend on a feedback loop. In diabetes, for example, it’s possible we could make stem cells that would sense glucose and turn on insulin in response. We are using pluripotent stem cells, so we can make them into any cell type we can remove or insert genes that have the potential to treat many types of disorders.”

“The ability to build living tissues from ‘smart’ stem cells that precisely respond to their environment opens up exciting possibilities for investigation in regenerative medicine,” said Jonathan Brunger, PhD, the paper’s first author and a postdoctoral fellow in cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco.

The research was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Jean Price at 2:51 pm

    If they get it right..and can find there are no long term side effects…I personally believe stem cell therapy has the potential to change the face of health care in a positive way…maybe not for us, yet for furture generations. Insurance companies may even stand behind new treatments,,,when they realize they can save money in the long run…because that’s what it will take for their coverage! Always money! First, the promise of making big money for the research to even be funded—and then the promise of saving money when compared to current care practices—for the new treatments to be covered by insurance!

    Maybe that’s the way it’s always been, yet now it is just more widely known! Or maybe the public is just more cynical! Not much is ever researched for purely altruistic reasons….although those involved first hand in the research may indeed have lofty goals themselves. It takes money to bring new therapies and new medicines to the people who need them, and that’s not likely to change in our society! I’m just hoping they are worthwhile therapies and they do help people! And they are affordable and/or covered by insurance!

  2. Kathy C at 12:35 am

    C’mon people!
    They have been hyping this “Stem Cell” hype for a decade at least. Over-hyping the Progress, and giving us the false impression of progress. We have a Medical Industry that is so poorly regulated that even simple conditions are too much for Physicians. We thought the Internet and all of this Technology was going to improve out lived, instead we are in a kind of backwards state. They Market the heck out of these immune-suppresent drugs because they are profitable and we can be really certain that the side effects are not being reported.
    They have sold us on false promises. The current battle to defend Science is a byproduct of the Corporate takeover of Healthcare. Sure we have some great technology but only some of us can afford it. We have been fed a lie of progress. Even the subject matter on these Sites is suspect. So is the direction of the Discussion, one that avoids mentioning Facts. We have been Hoodwinked. A local Physician at our locla Hospital decided to remove a woman’s pain Pump, she was Hypotensive,. he was uninformed (Willfully Ignorant) about the “Opiate Epidemic” or facts. The woman had a stroke and is now blind. This is the kind of future we can expect, one where ignorance and greed determine the course of Healthcare. These Industries found that facts and Scientific Evidence do not matter anymore, and neither do human lives. The pursuit of Profit is all that matters. This Artcle is merely another overstated Marketing ploy to promote an industry that is killing us.

  3. JeanineS at 1:45 pm

    Mouse or animal studies have never equated the same as on humans…never. Genetic engineering is really still in its infancy. There hasn’t even been testing on safety for humans on eating plants that have been genetically modified. I am amazed at all the things that are done, but without any real knowledge of long term effects…..just assumptions that all will be ok. In addition, if done as a vaccine, then there are laws that protect the manufacturer and Drs from lawsuit from any type of harm, including and up to death of the patient. While I want more treatments and cures, I want them procured in a safe and reasonable manner…

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