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New potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis uncovered by scientists at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Lankenau Medical Center March 24, 2017 Research News

A new therapeutic approach to treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was developed recently by researchers at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR). They demonstrated in preclinical studies that a specific monoclonal antibody both reduced RA’s impact and even stopped the onset of the disease.

Afflicting approximately 1.3 million Americans, RA is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that causes painful inflammation of the joints. Current medications focus primarily on controlling the inflammation—that is, on treating the symptoms rather than blocking the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie RA development.

The researchers theorized that specifically targeting enzymes that modulate the immune response could provide a useful therapeutic strategy to treat autoimmune disease. IDO2, an enzyme discovered by LIMR scientists, promotes inflammation in autoimmune disorders and was an attractive target for antibody therapy development.

“We administered an anti-IDO2 monoclonal antibody to mice, and found that those that received the antibody developed only mild arthritis,” said Lauren Merlo, PhD, lead author of the study and research assistant professor in the laboratory of LIMR’s Laura Mandik-Nayak, PhD. “This result builds on our lab’s previous work demonstrating that IDO2 was important to the disease process at the genetic level and was especially promising because it extended to multiple preclinical models of arthritis.”

In their paper “Therapeutic antibody targeting of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO2) inhibits autoimmune arthritis,” the authors stated that their results strongly support the theory that IDO2 is a critical mediator of arthritis development; thus, therapeutic targeting with an IDO2-specific antibody can be used to alleviate disease. This study was published in a recent edition of the biomedical journal Clinical Immunology and was noted as a “research highlight in experimental arthritis” in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology article “Do you want to treat arthritis? IDO2!”

“What is particularly exciting about our results is that we are able to successfully target a molecule that, because of its intracellular location, would not traditionally be considered a candidate for antibody therapy. This highlights the enormous and as-yet unexplored potential of monoclonal antibodies as a therapeutic strategy to target intracellular antigens in the treatment of autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Mandik-Nayak, LIMR associate professor and the study’s senior author.

Other LIMR researchers on the investigation team included Samantha Grabler, James DuHadaway, Elizabeth Pigott, Kaylend Manley, George Prendergast and Lisa Laury-Kleintop. Their work was funded in part by the Lupus Research Alliance, the Women’s Board of Lankenau Medical Center, and the Zuckerman Family Autoimmune Disorder Research Fund.

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985,Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.

At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

Main Line Health also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton, King of Prussia and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare,one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence and the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

About Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center and is part of Main Line Health. Founded in 1927, LIMR’s mission is to improve human health and well-being. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to formidable medical challenges, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. LIMR’s principal investigators conduct basic, preclinical and translational research, using their findings to explore ways to improve disease detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They are committed to extending the boundaries of human health through technology transfer and training of the next generation of scientists and physicians.