Arthritic relief

Published: Sunday 31 January 1993

SCIENTISTS at Cambridge University's Department of Pathology have found an effective way of treating patients with long-standing rheumatoid arthritis, using "humanised monoclonal antibodies". Produced from animal cells, monoclonal antibodies are designed to order and can kill unwanted cells. Mainly used to treat cancer, these antibodies are now being used to kill rheumatoid arthritis-causing blood cells as well.

Monoclonal antibodies produced from animal cells have to be "humanised" using genetic engineering techniques that disguise them as a normal antibody, to prevent rejection by the patient's body.

CAMPATH-1H, the humanised monoclonal antibody used in rheumatoid arthritis treatment, is being produced by the MRC/Wellcome Therapeutic Antibody Centre at Addenbrookes' Hospital in Cambridge. Studies have shown that though repeated treatment prolongs the patient's symptomatic relief, it does not provide a permanent cure.

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