Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wonder drugs may treat many conditions

At the 2008 Congress of European Pharmacological Societies (EPHAR), held July 13-17, 2008 in Manchester, England, Professor Marc Feldmann of the Imperial College London predicted that drugs he helped develop to treat rheumatoid arthritis may prove to be effective for many more medical conditions, including atheriosclerosis.

The drugs, which block a cytokine known as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), include infliximab, etanercept and adalimumab, which have shown a dramatic protective effect in patients afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. These agents have also shown to be of benefit for other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, including Crohn's disease, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis. Additionally, they have shown promise in the treatment of acute alcoholic hepatitis, a potentially fatal condition.

Cytokines such as TNF-alpha are molecules released by immune cells to alert the immune system that the body is under attack and to initiate a response against the infection. "In autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, we discovered that cytokines are over-produced causing the immune system to fight itself, resulting in inflammation and tissue destruction," Dr Feldmann explained. "We further found that by blocking just one cytokine – tumor necrosis factor alpha – we were able to block all the cytokines involved in the inflammation, with remarkable clinical results." Continue Reading

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