A group from Osaka University and others announced that they have identified proteins that cause worsening of symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, which is said to affect approximately 80,<> patients in Japan, and discovered a component of a drug that suppresses their action in experiments in mice.

Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which tissues such as joints and skin are attacked by immune abnormalities and inflammation occurs, and it is estimated that there are about 80,3 patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Japan.

A group led by Professor Kazuhiro Suzuki of Osaka University investigated the detailed causes of autoimmune diseases using mice that reproduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

As a result, it was found that the progression of arthritis was suppressed in mice that could not produce a protein called "COMMD8/<> complex" that activates immunity, and this protein was involved in the exacerbation of autoimmune diseases.

Furthermore, when celastrol, a major ingredient in Raikoto, a raw material of Kampo medicines used to suppress inflammation, was administered to mice, the action of this protein was suppressed, and it was confirmed that it actually had the effect of preventing the worsening of symptoms.

The research group is working on the development of new drugs with higher efficacy based on this ingredient, and Professor Suzuki says, "The mechanism is different from immunosuppressants commonly used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, and there is a possibility that we can create drugs with fewer side effects."