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New Class of Anti-Arthritis Drugs Also Treats Multiple Inflammatory Diseases

Update Date: Jul 10, 2014 07:48 AM EDT

Inflammatory disease might occur in distinct sites in the same patient and a medication effective for one disorder might make worse the other. However, a new class of anti-arthritis drug, DTrp8-ɣMSH (DTrp), acts via the melanocortin (MC) system to reduce both arthritic joint inflammation and periodontitis, a new study has found.

"This research, a joint program with the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil, indicates that MC receptor agonists, possibly better if selective for MC3, represent a novel class of anti-arthritic therapeutics able to target joint disease without aggravating unwanted effects on distant organs and tissues," Mauro Perretti, PhD, of Queen Mary University of London, Barts, and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry (UK), said in a press release. 

Researchers first determined whether mice that were induced with experimental arthritis also manifested bone loss in the alveolar - tooth socket - bone. They noted that the none loss in the jaw was associated with the severity of localized inflammation in the joints of mice. 

Researchers also compared the effects of a peptide that selectively activates MC3 receptors in mice on both arthritis and alveolar bone loss. Subsequently they compared the effects to other known medications. 

"DTrp could be viewed as a starting point for a new class of bone-sparing anti-arthritic agents," said John L. Wallace, PhD, MBA, of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada and University of Toronto, in a commentary on these findings. "This study highlights the continued value of simpler and cheaper (for both the maker and the end-user) approaches to drug development, harnessing the potential of endogenous anti-inflammatory mechanisms."

Researchers added that the drugs that harness endogenous anti-inflammatory mechanisms like the MC system offer many advantages, i.e., they produce a wide range of anti-inflammatory effects and promote the healing of injured tissues. These are also potentially related to very few adverse effects. 

The study has been published in the August issue of The American Journal of Pathology. 

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