Researchers at Washington State University may have found an affordable and accessible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the research published in Arthritis and Rheumatology on February 16, 2016, a compound found in green tea was found to block the joint pain, inflammation, and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that affects more than 2 million Americans. The disorder causes chronic inflammation, mostly in small joints of the hands and feet, and can eventually cause cartilage damage, bone erosion, and joint deformity.
"Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use," said Salah-uddin Ahmed, the lead WSU researcher on the project.
The anti-inflammatory compound in green tea is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The researchers observed mice that were preclinical animal models of human rheumatoid arthritis. Over ten days, the researchers gave the mice EGCG and examined the swelling in their ankles. The phytochemical ultimately blocked the effects of the disease without blocking other cellular functions, and the ankle swelling was markedly reduced.
"This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 - an important signaling protein - through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis," said Ahmed.
The finding is promising, but researchers still need to test the results on humans.