Arthritis National Research Foundation grant recipient Chuan-ju Liu, Ph.D. (2007-2009), joined by researchers from across multiple disciplines at NYU Langone Medical Center, has created a new protein molecule that halts the progression and reverses the disease process in mice with rheumatoid arthritis. Derived from the growth factor progranulin the protein may provide the basis for new therapies and possibly a cure.
“The development of this protein extends our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that drive the growth factors and cytokines control of cartilage development and arthritis,” said Dr. Liu, the lead researcher and associate professor, Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Cell Biology, NYU Langone Medical Center. “Whether the protein accounts for all of the anti-inflammatory effects we observed in the study needs to replicated, but we are very encouraged by these initial results.”
Over the last 20 years research in rheumatology has focused on identifying cytokines (cell-signaling protein molecules secreted by the glial cells of the nervous system), leading to the inflammatory and degenerative processes in rheumatoid arthritis. The focus has been on TNF, tumor necrosis factor, the molecule responsible for the inflammatory process. TNF was discovered by Arthritis National Research Foundation board member and former grantee Dr. Gale Granger at UC Irvine. The molecule created and used in this study, Atsttrin, is an antagonist of TNF signaling via targeting to TNF receptors. Atsttrin is a peptide constructed from segments of proteins that originate within a cell, which has a high affinity and specificity for binding to TNF receptors.
The researchers suggest that this progranulin-derived protein could result in alternative treatments to those suffering from chronic autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s diseases, ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The creation of this new protein offers promise for an increased quality of life for millions suffering in America and around the world.
Source NYU Langone Medical Center Press Release