FEB 08, 2018 3:44 PM PST

New Molecule is a Potential Arthritis Therapeutic

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

There may come a time when people won’t require surgery to replace their joints. One researcher, Denis Evseenko, MD, Ph.D., a scientist at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, is pursuing that goal. His research team has been developing a therapeutic molecule they termed RCGD423, for Regulator of Cartilage Growth and Differentiation. It shows promise for treating arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis leads to the progressive loss of joint cartilage, shown in red. / Credit: Nancy Liu/Denis Evseenko Lab, USC

The researchers applied RCGD423 to joint cartilage cells in the lab and found the cells grew more, while less of them died. Next, the molecule was injected into a rat research model;  the damaged cartilage in those animals was able to heal more effectively.

RCGD423 acts through its communication with a specific chemical in the body, the glycoprotein 130 (Gp130) receptor. Two completely different kinds of signals are sent between these molecules; one stimulates the development of cartilage in the embryo, the other type of signal triggers chronic inflammation in adults. The RCGD423 molecule can amplify the ability of the Gp130 receptor to harness the signals that can stimulate the regeneration of cartilage in the embryo. RCGD423 can also stop inflammatory messages that can cause the breakdown of cartilage over time.

The positive results of their investigations have led the team to plan a clinical trial that will test RCGD423, or a molecule like it, as a treatment for either juvenile arthritis or osteoarthritis.

"The goal is to make an injectable therapy for an early to moderate level of arthritis," said Evseenko, associate professor of orthopedic surgery. "It's not going to cure arthritis, but it will delay the progression of arthritis to the damaging stages when patients need joint replacements, which account for a million surgeries a year in the U.S."

Evseenko suggested that RCGD423 could be a prototype for a new type of anti-inflammatory drug that has an extensive range of applications. Other work by this group produced several molecules that are similar to RCGD423 in structure but have varied potencies and physical effects. 

In a different study reported in Nature Cell Biology, RCGD423 activated stem cells and was able to stimulate hair growth. The scientists are now partnering with researchers at USC and other institutions to investigate the many possibilities these molecules present as therapeutics for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, jaw arthritis, neurological and heart diseases and baldness. It may also have implications for the maintenance of pluripotent stem cells in the lab.

Learn more about the Evseenko’s research from the video.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via University of Southern California, Annals of Rheumatic Diseases

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 13, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Breast Cancer Drug Reverses Deadly Blood Cancer in Mice
AUG 13, 2021
Breast Cancer Drug Reverses Deadly Blood Cancer in Mice
A drug currently used to treat advanced breast cancers may treat a rare type of leukemia known as myelofibrosis. The stu ...
AUG 18, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Insight Into an Antiviral Enzyme That Can Impact Cancer Cells
AUG 18, 2021
Insight Into an Antiviral Enzyme That Can Impact Cancer Cells
For many years, researchers have studied how an enzyme called APOBEC3 can help protect the body from pathogenic viruses, ...
AUG 22, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Natural Protein to 'SEND' Gene Editing Cargo to Cells
AUG 22, 2021
A Natural Protein to 'SEND' Gene Editing Cargo to Cells
One of the most difficult aspects of gene therapy might be ensuring that it gets into the right cells safely so it can h ...
AUG 23, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
A Conductor of the Circadian Rhythm is Identified
AUG 23, 2021
A Conductor of the Circadian Rhythm is Identified
The daily cycle of the planet is reflected in the biology of plants and animals. Even our cells are influenced by what&# ...
SEP 07, 2021
Immunology
Designer Cells for Treating Arthritis Are Activated by Inflammation
SEP 07, 2021
Designer Cells for Treating Arthritis Are Activated by Inflammation
Scientists have developed a new cell therapy for arthritis that becomes activated in the presence of inflammation. When ...
SEP 09, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Nematode Worms Can Pass Memories On to Others
SEP 09, 2021
Nematode Worms Can Pass Memories On to Others
If an individual can warn their group about danger they might be able to overcome it. It seems that even a nematode worm ...
Loading Comments...