Rheumatoid arthritis

Another step closer to immunotherapy for RA

Queensland researchers have taken one more step towards developing an immunotherapy treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis, the conference has heard.

Professor Ranjeny Thomas and colleagues from the UQ Diamantina Institute are completing formal pre-clinical development and hope to start a Phase I trial in the near future in rheumatoid arthritis patients with early disease.

Talking to the limbic Professor Thomas explains that the team has been developing liposome nanoparticle immunotherapy. The liposomes essentially encapsulate and co-deliver an NF-kB inhibitor and an autoantigenic peptide to antigen presenting cells in the immune system.

They have so far tested it in mouse models of both immunity and inflammatory arthritis and found the immunotherapy suppressed immune responses in an antigen-specific manner.

Last year they published a proof of concept study of dendritic cell immunotherapy in RA patients and the team now wish to establish the same principles for the nanoparticle technology in patients, which Professor Thomas says, if successful, could be used with much greater ease than cell therapy.

The planned phase I clinical trial will look at dose finding, safety and immune response in RApatients.

Professor Thomas says this will provide outcomes the team can use to take their research further.

People like to talk about ‘breakthroughs’ but as Professor Ranjeny explains: “After the initial basic science discovery, our steps to translate to patients are always incremental… our last trial pulled that discovery through to the clinic, and this trial will be the next step,” she says.

“Like any research it’s a series of solving problems, you solve one and then a new one comes up, and when you get to the end of a project you’ve solved a huge number of problems to make a product, which we hope will open new, safer possibilities for treating RA.”

Physicians interested in contributing patients to the study please contact Joanne Tesiram at [email protected]

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