The chemical, Interleukin-1ra (IL-1ra), regulates another messenger, IL-1, which promotes inflammation and the destruction of cartilage and bone.
A six-month trial has now been completed involving 472 arthritis sufferers at 41 hospitals in 11 countries. They were split up into groups and given different amounts of IL-1ra.
Those given the maximum 150mgs-a-day dose showed a significant improvement over the placebo group at 24 weeks. In addition they experienced a slowing in the rate of damage to the joints. The trial was continued for a further six months and improvement was maintained throughout the one-year follow- up period. No important adverse effects were reported.
The findings were reported at the annual meeting of the British Society for Rheumatology in Harrogate.