Light on arthritis

May 16, 1997

RESEARCHERS have made a breakthrough in the battle against Rheumatoid Arthritis. Brian Stutton at King's College London's Randall Institute and Michael Taussig of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge believe their "surprise" discovery may pave the way to a drug which could inhibit the debilitating symptoms of the disease.

RA occurs when the body's immune system attacks itself. Antibodies, the molecules which usually defend the body against infection, mistakenly attack the body's own protein. Using a technique called X-Ray crystallography to look at the atomic structure of the antibodies in an RA sufferer, the scientists have identified for the first time the unique way that the antibodies bind to the protein in cases of RA.

"It sheds a light on how the disease is initiated, and provides a basis for designing inhibitors," said Dr Stutton.

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