Tags: anti-TNF, arthritis, health, IRHOM2, medicine, R.A., RA, rhematoid arthritis, rheumatoid, Rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatology, science, TNF, TNF alpha, tumour necrosis factor
A protein called IRHOM2 has been identified as a possible new target for drugs aimed at treating RA, and could be useful for those who do not respond to anti-TNFs or even eventually replace anti-TNFs altogether. The full article on IRHOM2 can be found here, but here’s a short summary.
TNF or tumour necrosis factor has a useful purpose in the body; it is a signalling protein and it signals the body to produce a protective inflammatory response. Thus if a part of you is infected, TNF starts the process of inflammation, which takes immune response cells to the appropriate area in the blood, and they start to attack the disease-causers. In this case inflammation is a good thing.
However, when too much TNF is produced, immune cells start to act on things they shouldn’t, like our joints – leading to RA.
Anti-TNFs attack TNFs directly, and do a mighty fine job for many people, but they are toxic and can have nasty side effects.
IRHOM2 is a protein that helps to release TNF from where it sits harmlessly and inactively on the surface of cells, so attacking IRHOM2 should have the same effect as attacking TNF – reducing in TNF release and therefore reduction in inappropriately active immune cells, and so reduction in RA symptoms.
It is hoped that drugs targeting IRHOM2 would be less toxic, because they will only block TNF release from the specific cells that contribute to joint damage, and they could be an alternative for those who don’t respond well to anti-TNFs.
There is, of course, a long way to go. This is just the identification of a possible target. The next step is to find something that will actually block IRHOM2 and be safe to use in patients. Then there will be the long, slow plod (quite necessary for safety reasons!) through clinical trials, with no doubt a few failures along the way – but some years down the line this could be a real breakthrough. Let’s hope so!
p.s. I do hope this makes sense! I’m really, really tired and I haven’t had hubby proofread it yet!
Tags: biotech, health economics, NICE, pharmaceutical companies, RA, Rheumatoid arthritis, science, UK
I’m currently working on a transcription about pharmaceutical companies, and it’s hardly giving away state secrets to mention that the guy has just said that many other countries are looking to NICE, (who base their decisions on whether a drug is approved in the UK on ‘health economics’ which boils down to ‘if it’s expensive then the answer is no). This is a real concern because if more and more countries move to this model then more and more pharmaceutical and biotech companies are going to have to reconsider whether it’s worth their while developing expensive biologics such as anti-TNFs. If they decide it’s NOT worth while, where does that leave us, the patients?
This is a particular concern for RA because frequently a drug that works well for a while in one patient suddenly stops working and they need to move on to something else. I’ve posted about that before I think, regarding the NICE decision (now withdrawn for reevaluation) to refuse a further anti-TNF treatment to someone that’s already had one). So if the companies stop developing these drugs, then we’ll be in the same situation down the line as we are now – a small number of drugs to try, if NASTY even let us try them, and then bang – here comes the wheelchair.
Sorry for the lack of positivity in this post – I’m quite stressed right now! But then again, I’m stressed because I have a lot of work and I’m GLAD I have a lot of work to keep the wolf from the door in the current economic climate!