A drug used to treat bone marrow cancer could also provide a promising treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The study conducted by Greek researchers has suggested that the biologic drug bortezomib (Velcade), a proteasome inhibitor used to treat multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer), may be useful for RA as well.
In the study, bortezomib displayed favorable effects in an animal model of inflammatory arthritis that mimics RA, in reducing disease severity and inflammation, and promoting bone healing.
RA is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and joint destruction.
"The definitive role of biologic agents in treating this difficult-to-cure population has yet to be defined in prospective trials comparing the available therapeutic options," explained study leader Evangelia Yannaki.
"Given the lack of options for poor responders and the increased risk of infections and malignancies with available biologic agents for RA, there is a great need for novel therapies that are safe and effective," he added.
The research team explored bortezomib as an optimal treatment for RA because the drug targets multiple pathways.
In analysis, researchers noted that joints in animals treated with the drug displayed limited damage and inflammation, and an obvious bone healing effect was observed.
"Our research showed that bortezomib is a useful treatment in targeting critical cell populations involved in the development of inflammation and autoimmunity in RA. We believe that bortezomib should be further explored in a clinical setting, as it represents an attractive intervention for inflammatory conditions and a highly promising agent in the treatment of RA," concluded Yannaki.
The findings were published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.