Shocking the Immune System to Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published Online: Monday, July 1, 2002

Rheumatoid arthritis is believed to occur when the immune system attacks the tissue lining the joints. Now there is evidence that deliberately weakening or shocking the immune system could be a treatment of last resort for the 10% of patients who do not respond to conventional therapy.

The treatment involves the use of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy to damage but not completely destroy the immune system. The immune system is then rebuilt by transplanting back some of the patient?s own stem cells. According to the results of a small pilot study released in June 2002, the condition of 60% of those treated improved.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Bingham, of Leeds General Infirmary in Britain, stressed that this radical, last-resort treatment is not a cure. "Patients notice an improvement the next day. One of my patients had absolutely no disease activity at all. She has since relapsed quite badly, but she says that just for those 9 months it was worth it."

Latest Articles
OTC medications can have serious side effects in children if they are not carefully administered.
Patients with asthma can now access Spiriva Respimat with a prescription at pharmacies across the country.
This weekly video program provides our readers with an in-depth review of the latest news, product approvals, FDA rulings and more.
Chronic kidney disease incidence has grown faster than many of its common comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, and medications may be an underappreciated driver of this growth.
Latest Issues