December 4, 1995
Media Contact: John Cramer
Phone: (410) 955-1534
E-mail: jcramer@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Johns Hopkins is seeking volunteers to test the first drug intended to treat the cause of rheumatoid arthritis rather than the symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues. T cells, a type of disease-fighting white blood cell, are found in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients. The multicenter study uses a synthetic vaccine designed to prevent further tissue destruction by causing the immune system to shut down T cells suspected of attacking the joints, says Alan Matsumoto, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine who is directing the phase II clinical trial at Hopkins. In phase I trials, the vaccine was shown to be safe and effective in stimulating the immune system against these T cells.

"Currently available drugs are toxic and treat a patient's symptoms rather than the underlying cause," says Matsumoto. "If this therapy proves safe and effective, it could help many patients to lead normal lives."

The 32-week trial, sponsored by the Immune Response Corp., a biopharmaceutical company, is enrolling patients with moderate or severe rheumatoid arthritis. Hopkins needs 18 volunteers.

-- JHMI --
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