Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly begins to attack its own tissues, primarily the synovium, the membrane that lines the joints. As a result of this autoimmune response, fluid builds up in the joints, causing joint pain and systemic inflammation.
RA is a chronic disease in which most people experience intermittent periods of intense disease activity punctuated by periods of reduced symptoms or even remission. In the long term, RA can cause damage to cartilage, tendons, ligaments and bones which can lead to substantial loss of mobility.
BRI was an early leader in understanding the genetic component of RA. Current research into the disease includes:
BRI's clinical research in RA is investigating and comparing the efficacy of different drugs and combinations of drugs for the treatment of RA.
Scientists study the molecular and genetic profiles of people with early arthritis compared to healthy people using BRI's Rheumatic Disease Biorepository to better understand the disease mechanisms at onset and investigate possible environmental factors that could contribute to RA. The findings of this BRI research may lead to earlier diagnosis and possible prevention of RA in the future. Researchers recently used cutting-edge tetramer technology developed at BRI to find the T cells that drive RA.This tool now allows scientists to study how RA starts, how current therapies may impact the immune response directed to the joint and how to specifically target these cells therapeutically.