Scientists at VIB and Ghent University have demonstrated with their research on inflammasomes that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should be considered a syndrome rather than a single disease. Scientists have suspected that inflammasomes, which are protein complexes that form part of our immune system, may play a role in the development and progression of RA. Lieselotte Vande Walle and Mohamed Lamkanfi, PhD, have been able to demonstrate the role of inflammasomes in RA using a specific mouse model with RA, developed by VIB colleagues Geert van Loo and Rudi Beyaert in Ghent.

According to a VIB-Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology news release, the researchers were able to combat the development of this condition by blocking inflammasomes. One of the processes accounted for by inflammasomes is the production of interleukin-1, and stopping the effects of interleukin-1 resulted in a cure for the mice. The VIB news release notes that the researchers demonstrated that the mouse model is suitable for studying the correlation between RA and inflammasomes.

The mouse model developed by the research team places the genetic focus on the inflammasomes and also lays the foundations for the development of new treatments. Specifically, the results of the study demonstrate that a further therapeutic option could be the blocking of the inflammasome. In addition, the research by the scientists demonstrates that RA is a syndrome rather than a single disease because similar symptoms can have different causes. As such, a personalized treatment approach for RA may be beneficial for patients.

The VIB news release notes that although individuals may have the same symptoms, the underlying genetic causes may differ, so future treatment options may differ as well. Lamkanfi explains, “Until recently, RA was considered to be a single disease, but our research suggests that it is more likely to be a syndrome than a single disease. This knowledge could result in a more personalized approach to treatment, with the most suitable medicines selected according to the patient’s profile.”

Source: VIB-Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology