New Hope for Arthritis Sufferers

New Hope for Arthritis Sufferers

An Australian research team has discovered a new means of reducing the crippling inflammation of arthritis which could be marketed as, a drug within four years. The team, from Monash University, presented its findings to the seventh World Conference on Inflammation being held in Melbourne, this week.

Monash associate professor of medicine, Dr Eric Morand, said researchers linked a protein commonly known as MIF with the inflammation associated with arthritis. "We believe we have identified MIF blocking as a way to reduce the need for steroids, and secondly, we believe we have found away to block MIF by making a drug type. compound into a human treatment," he said.

Dr Morand said MIF was a part of the immune system that malfunctioned in the case of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases like asthma, bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

He said those diseases were currently treated with steroid drugs which, although effective, had numerous serious side-effects.

"The side-effects of steroids are in almost every system of the body," he said. "They cause weight gain, acne, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, cataracts and infections, so very profound and undesirable effects.

"The more steroids you take, the more side-effects you get."

The team's proposed drug would reduce inflammation and simultaneously reduce the requirement for steroids.

Dr Morand said it had been trialled on animals with human trials anticipated in 2006 or 2007.

A drug would be on the market at the earliest in 2008 or 2009.

Arthritis is the most common chronic condition affecting Australians and is suffered by over 14.5 per cent of the Australian population.

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