A team of British scientists will soon begin tests on a new vaccine against rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment hinges on using a patients own blood cells to suppress the effects of the joint disease.
The researchers want to adapt a technique used in cancer research that essentially helps the body heal itself.
The study is being funded by the medical research charity group, the Arthritis Research Campaign. The group issued a press statement confirming that a pilot study conducted by researchers from Newcastle University in northeast England will examine the vaccines effectiveness on eight volunteers.
If the outcomes are successful, the team plans to conduct larger clinical trials.
A healthy immune system fights infection to protect your body. But rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that attacks body tissue and causes painful inflammation.
The new vaccine uses chemicals that cause a patients white blood cells to develop into a type of cell called tolerogenic dendritic cells. Scientists believe these cells can suppress immune system activity.
Lead researcher John Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology, said the work was at a very early stage but was hugely exciting. He said that if the research is successful, it could signal a major breakthrough in treating rheumatoid arthritis.