According to estimates, more than 1.5 million adults in the U.S are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. While the disease has been difficult to completely cure a new study by an Australian biotechnology company, Mesoblast Inc., has come forward with promising results with regards to treatment.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes stiffness in the joints, swelling and pain. The body’s own tissues are attacked due to the illness. In a lot of cases this can lead to an increased risk of heart disease in individuals and even premature death.
If the new study, that makes use of stem cells, is successful it can help millions of people around the globe as almost a third of rheumatoid arthritis patients don’t sufficiently respond to popular treatments.
During Phase 2 of the clinical trial of the current study, which lasted for 12-weeks, a total of 48 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were given infusions of the new stem cell treatment. The results of the study showed researchers that only one intravenous infusion of MPC-300-IV treatment (mesenchymal precursor cell) was effective against the inflammatory disease. The new treatment decreased symptoms and helped improve the physical functions in volunteers. There were no serious side effects or adverse effects related to infusion observed during the study.
A 20% relief of signs and symptoms has to be achieved in order to deem stem cell treatment as efficient. This measure is known as ACR20. With regards to the current study 55% of the individuals who were treated with one biological drug achieved ACR20. An infusion of 2 million cells per kg of body weight was received by these participants. From the placebo group, the ACR20 was achieved by 33% of the individuals.
ACR20 also has a higher level of measure known as ACR70. This measure relates to a 70% improvement in signs and symptoms of a disease. At the end of Phase 2, 36% of volunteers achieved ACR70, who had been given one infusion of MPC-300-IV, while none of the patients in the placebo group achieved it.
According to the CEO of Mesoblast Inc., Silviu Itescu, “The Phase 2 trial results have indicated a strong efficacy signal and consistent effects of a single MPC infusion on clinical symptoms, functional abilities, and disease activity, without any serious adverse events. These results support the potential of our allogeneic cell therapy to be positioned as a first-line treatment option for biologic refractory patients, where there is a clear need for safe and effective treatments.”
A rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, Dr. Allan Gibofsky said, “The safety and efficacy results of this study are very encouraging and suggest that Mesoblast’s cell therapy has the potential to fill the major unmet medical need of the biologic refractory RA population, where agents that provide consistent durable effects without the risk of opportunistic infections or malignancies are sorely needed.”
The company is planning a partnership in order to move the treatment to Phase 3 clinical trials. The current treatment will have to address the pain as well as the progression of the chronic disease in order to be considered as a reliable medical cure.