For the over two million people in the U.S. that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there is good news out of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in Florida. A new synthesized compound, SR2211, has been shown to dramatically reduce joint inflammation in mice after the first eight to ten days of treatment. Treated mice also showed less erosion of cartilage and bone in comparison to untreated mice.

So how does it work? 

This compound targets RORy, a key regulator of TH17 cells. TH17 cells are a type of white blood cell recently identified and connected to autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease, and lupus. The compound suppresses TH17 cells and thus offers promising treatment for these diseases.

Although there are other treatments for RA, this newest compound is taken orally, as opposed to by injection. Injections carry with them the risk of infection and pneumonia. Additionally, injections are meant for managing long-term immunosuppression.  SR2211 is ideal for opportunistic infections and inflammation. Taken orally, SR2211 can be stopped immediately if any interactions or serious side effects occur.

“We wanted to develop a compound with the potential to help treat patients suffering from a range of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis,” said staff scientist Mi Ra Chang, the first author of the study and a member of the Griffin lab. “Compounds such as SR2211 work directly and specifically on at least two immune cell types directly involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.”

With this goal and the ability to utilize SR2211 as an oral medication, treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has just taken a big step forward. 

SR2211 could also be utilized as a treatment for younger patients diagnosed with RA, as it appears to halt erosion of cartilage and bone. Women diagnosed with RA under age 50 are at a greater risk of fracturing bones, and SR2211 has the potential to minimize this. Further study is necessary, but the news is promising.

Would you take an additional medication to help reduce the risk and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Image by Vinoth Chandar via Flickr


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