GM-CSF Suppression May Alleviate Pain From Arthritis

Researchers at the University of Melborne are looking at a family of molecules that may play a key role in arthritic pain suppression. Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) has had a longstanding role in arthritis research. The molecules are related to the development of blood cells.

Professor John Hamilton and Dr. Andrew Cook have shown that blocking GM-CSF with antibodies suppresses pain experienced from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis. Their experimental models have shown promising results in clinical trials which are currently underway.

“Without a doubt, quality of life and to be free from pain are important issues for people suffering with arthritis related conditions” said Professor Hamilton. Their findings have appeared in the top-ranking arthritis journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

These new treatments could prove beneficial for patients and for the health care sector. “With our ageing population, the more common condition of osteoarthritis impacts more on our community and medical resources. A new therapy that can block such painful conditions would have massive benefits for health providers and governments in the future” added Dr. Cook.

The study shows that GM-CSF is a vital factor in developing pain in both models of inflammatory pain and two models of inflammatory arthritis. GM-CSF “is key to the development of inflammatory and arthritic pain, suggesting that pain alleviation could result from trials evaluating its role in inflammatory/autoimmune conditions,” the researchers concluded in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Essentially, antibodies that block GM-CSF has shown to alleviate and suppress joint pain. The study from scientists at the University of Melborne has revealed that lowered levels of GM-CSF suppress pain in experimental models of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

“A new therapy that can block such painful conditions would have massive benefits for health providers and governments in the future,” reveals Dr. Cook.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects sufferers in their 30s and 40s with a higher incidence in women than men, but a spokesperson for Arthritis Research UK recognizes the potential of the trials to span age categories.

“A monoclonal antibody against GM-CSF is also currently being trialed for patients with RA, and is now being tested in phase-II trials for patients with RA. There has also been a lot of interest in GM-CSF in juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and it has been suggested that it could be a useful therapy in children, but this is not proven currently.”

GM-CSF suppression continues to play a vital role in treating adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Promising results have been shown from current clinical trials. However, the potential benefit for younger patients is still in question.


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