A new research has highlighted the use of platinum and gold in the treatment of autoimmune disorders. The mechanism of how gold helps in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases has remained a mystery. It has now been found that platinum or gold can prevent the disease-causing microorganism (bacteria and virus) from taking hold of an important immune system protein.
The researchers were in the search for a new drug for treatment of autoimmune diseases. They eventually ended up finding out the mystery behind mechanism of gold action, an old compound used for over 75 years now. The researchers found that the chemotherapeutic drug Cisplatin (contains platinum) produced inactivation of the Class II MHC molecules.
Motivated by their finding, the researchers probed further into metal containing compounds and found that a special form of gold also possessed the remarkable property of Class II MHC molecule inactivation. The results of this study can be directly applied to clinical medicine once the mechanism of gold action is unraveled and the effectiveness of this therapy proved.
Gold has been used in the treatment of autoimmune disorders following the demonstration of anti-bacterial properties of gold in Robert Koch in the year 1890. Jacques Forestier, a French doctor pioneered gold therapy. The potential side effects associated with metal toxicity and the prolonged duration for drug action limited the widespread application of this form of treatment.
Now, with our improved understanding of drug action of metallic compounds, we might be able to develop novel, effective gold-based medication for the treatment of autoimmune disorders. It is however very important to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risk or side effects.