Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and many other autoimmune diseases have been noticed to associate with particular alleles of the MHC (major histocompatibility complex) genes. Due to its chronically progressive and debilitating nature, RA is considered a major public health problem. There are estimated over 50 million individuals afflicted with the disease worldwide. Currently, established treatments of RA or any other MHC-associated diseases are designed to inhibit either final common pathways of inflammation or immunological mediators. Both approaches are non-specific and, therefore, are associated with severe side effects. Thus, novel approaches for treating MHC-associated diseases are needed.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a method of treating a disease with an underlying signal transduction aberration, including RA, using shared epitope antagonist peptides. Recent findings indicate that chemical modifications of the five-amino acid peptide, DKCLA, turn it into a potent inhibitor that can block the effect of signal-transducing ligands associated with autoimmune and other MHC-associated diseases including RA at sub-picomolar concentrations. Unlike the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids, this approach is specific, and may be associated with fewer side effects.
Applications and Advantages
- May be used both for prophylaxis and treatment-nl-of MHC-associated diseases including RA
- Relatively simple synthesis
- More specific than current approaches