Gene therapy may help arthritis patients

Jan. 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM
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BOSTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. and German scientists say they have determined gene therapy can reduce symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers led by Professor Christopher Evans at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston said their findings represent an important milestone in gene therapy, which involves implanting a normal gene to compensate for a defective gene in a patient.

"This study helps extend gene therapy research to non-genetic, non-lethal diseases," said Evans, director of the Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies at the medical center. "Arthritis is a good target for this treatment because the joint is a closed space into which we can inject genes."

Ongoing work will focus on the use of gene therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, he said.

The research that included Peter Wehling, Julio Reinecke, Axel Baltzer, Marcus Granrath, Klaus Schulitz, Carl Schultz and Rudiger Krauspe of the University of Dusseldorf School of Medicine in Germany; Theresa Whiteside, Elaine Elder and Paul Robbins of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and Steven Ghivizzani of the University of Florida College of Medicine is described in the February issue of the journal Human Gene Therapy.

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