What is the best route for injecting tolerogenic dendritic cells into people with rheumatoid arthritis?

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Professor John Isaacs

Organisation - Newcastle University

Type of grant - Invited Research Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £1,106,920.98

Start date - 20 August 2018

Reference - 21811

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Tolerogenic dendritic cells are a type of white blood cell which can help to control the immune system when it attacks the body's own tissues in autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. These cells have the potential to be used as a treatment to help reset a normal immune response in autoimmune conditions. This research will investigate this potential further by looking at how best to inject this treatment, and then observe whether it has a positive effect on the immune system.

Why is this research important?

The tolerogenic dendritic cells will be prepared from the white blood cells of people with rheumatoid arthritis, who will participate in the research. The researchers predict that for tolerogenic dendritic cells to switch off rheumatoid arthritis, they need to reach specialised immune tissues (lymph glands, spleen). Therefore, the researchers will mark the cells with a dye so that they can be seen on an MRI scan.

The cells will be given to people with rheumatoid arthritis via several different injection routes (into a vein, into the skin, into a joint or directly into a lymph gland). After injection, the researchers will then be able to use MRI scans to see where the cells are in the body. Blood samples will be studied to see whether inflammation that has been causing joint damage has started to slow down.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research is at an early stage; however, the results will inform how to inject tolerogenic dendritic cells in future trials. These cells could ultimately provide major benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis, potentially switching off the disease, without the major side effects that are seen with current treatments, which act by broadly switching off the immune system.