A new rheumatoid arthritis treatment has moved a step closer to reality with the announcement of collaboration between a University of Queensland start-up company and a major pharmaceutical firm.  The collaboration with Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company Janssen Biotech Inc will see the new vaccine move closer to a phase 1 clinical trial.  UQ Diamantina Institute lead autoimmunity researcher Professor Ranjeny Thomas said the development and potential commercialisation of the immunotherapy treatment could eventually benefit the world’s millions of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition caused by immune system dysfunction. It destroys joints and causes cardiovascular complications that can reduce life spans by 10 years.  The technology is being commercialised by Dendright Pty Ltd, a start-up company of UniQuest. UniQuest is UQ’s main commercialisation company.

The technology behind the treatment differs from existing drugs in that it results in a targeted therapy and allows suitable patients to be selected based on specific biomarkers, thereby improving response rates.  It targets the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis rather than simply treating the inflammatory symptoms.  It is hoped the treatment will prove effective for rheumatoid arthritis patients and that it could lead to innovation of treatments for other diseases, such as type 1 diabetes.

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