Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists have demonstrated a new strategy for treating auto-immune disease that successfully blocked the development of rheumatoid arthritis in a mouse model.
The scientists report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that infusing a highly specific type of cell that regulates immune responses into arthritis-prone mice shuts down the cascade of inflammation that damages tissues and joints.
The method worked best when the infusions of CD8+ Treg cells were given at the same time that the animals were injected with a protein that triggered the arthritis-causing auto-immune reaction, reported Science Daily.
"We found we could almost completely inhibit the disease in this setting," said Harvey Cantor, MD, chair of the Department of Cancer Immunology an d AIDS at Dana-Farber and the study's senior author.
Even when administered weeks after the disease was initiated, CD8+ Treg infusions combined with low doses of methotrexate -- a commonly used dr ug for rheumatoid arthritis -- were able to significantly slow the arthritis process, the scientists reported.