Results yielding from research into inflammasomes conducted by the Belgium-based VIB and Ghent University suggest that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should potentially be considered a syndrome, rather than a single disease.

Mohamed Lamkanfi, (pictured above left) VIB/Ghent University, explains in a news release from VIB, “Until recently, RA was considered to be a single disease, but our research suggests that it is more likely to be a syndrome than a single disease. This knowledge could result in a more personalized approach to treatment, with the most suitable medicines selected according to the patient’s profile.”

The release notes that scientists previously suspected that inflammasomes, protein complexes that form part of our immune system, play a role in the development and progression of RA. In their research, Lieselotte Vande Walle (pictured above right) and Lamkanfi have reportedly been able to demonstrate the role of inflammasomes in RA by using a specific mouse model of RA, developed by their colleagues Geert van Loo and Rudi Beyaert in Ghent.

The researchers were able to combat RA development by blocking inflammasomes. According to the release, one of the processes attributed to inflammasomes is the production of interleukin-1, a protein that is a key player in inflammatory reactions. The results suggest that stopping the effects of interleukin-1 translated into a cure for the mice.

The mouse model, the release states, places a genetic focus on the inflammasomes and also lays the groundwork for the development of new treatments. Additionally, the release notes that the finding indicating RA as a potential syndrome rather than single disease means that since RA patients may have all the same symptoms, the underlying genetic causes may differ, requiring treatment options in the future to differ as well.

Source: VIB