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Novel proteins designed that block inflammation regulator associated with rheumatoid arthritis

1 million Americans with rheumatoid arthritis, said Dr. David Karp, chief of rheumatic diseases and associate director of the Harold C. Simmons Arthritis Research Center.

"This is a very novel approach; one that has not been looked at by other investigators," he said. "This family of proteins is not only implicated in the painful inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, but also the joint destruction that accompanies the disease. These proteins also may be critical for other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosis."

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, mistaking them for foreign substances like bacteria or viruses. This disease is characterized by redness, swelling, loss of joint function and deterioration of cartilage and bone in the joints.

There is no cure for the disease, but there are currently three drugs that specifically target TNF inhibition. Although these drugs have been shown to be effective in decreasing the pain associated with the disease and in some cases joint destruction, some patients develop antibodies against the drugs, which may require the administration of higher doses.

"This side effect may lower the effectiveness of these drugs," Dr. Tansey said. "Our prediction is that because these TNF variants are virtually identical to native TNF, the body will not form antibodies against them, but this will have to be tested."

The TNF variants are currently in preclinical development at Xencor.

Anti-TNF therapy may also be useful in blocking inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, Dr. Tansey said.

Dr. Tansey recently received a $200,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to examine the role that elevated levels of TNF play in the loss of dopamine-producing neurons, which lead to Parkinson's disease.

Other researchers who contributed to
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Contact: Amy Shields
amy.shields@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
25-Sep-2003


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