Suicide molecule holds promise as new rheumatoid arthritis drug

An investigator at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has developed a "suicide" molecule that proved highly effective at wiping out rheumatoid arthritis in mice and has the potential to become a new, non-toxic method to either treat the disease or prevent it from occurring.

Harris Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine, says he discovered that the rogue immune cells active in RA are low in a molecule called Bim, which is needed to trigger their self-destruction after they've outlived their usefulness. So he developed a new molecule--BH3 mimetic, or what he dubbed Casper the Ghost--and injected it into mice engineered to suffer from the disease.

"This new therapy stopped the disease cold in 75 percent of the mice," reported Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg. "The best part was we didn't see any toxicity. This has a lot of potential for creating an entirely new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis."

Perlman says he sees indications that the molecule can also spur remission in patients. Now he wants to see if nanotechnology can be used to precisely deliver the molecule where it's needed.

- check out the story from Northwestern