“Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease. Though the precise mechanism of the disease is only partially understood, people with RA produce antibodies that target their own tissues, contributing to painful inflammation in the joints that can cause bone loss.

In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine found that the molecule DEL-1—already known to protect against periodontitis and other inflammatory diseases in animal models—similarly offers protection from the joint-damaging inflammation of RA. Using two distinct models of RA, the team, led by George Hajishengallis of Penn and Triantafyllos Chavakis of Germany’s Technical University of Dresden, showed that DEL-1 acted in two ways: in the joints themselves, preventing immune cells from fostering inflammation, and in the lymph nodes, interfering with the production of joint-damaging antibodies.”

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