Exosomes are cell particles of white blood cells, which play an important role in the regulation of the immune system. When a patient suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, the immune cells attack endogenous joint cartilage and other connective tissue cells resulting in the destruction of the joint. "Exosomes teach the immune system to recognize endogenous cells as endogenous again", said Peter Wehling, M.D. of the Center for Molecular Orthopedics, Düsseldorf, Germany. In total, Wehling treated 66 patients of different ages with severe RA with exosomes.
The patients received a single injection of exosomes into the most affected joint. "We observed quick and significant improvement in two thirds of the patients," said Wehling, who monitored the patients for follow-up periods ranging up to five years. The improvements lasted for an average of three to six months before exosome treatment was needed again. Significant improvement was achieved with respect to
joint pain, joint swelling and lowering inflammatory markers like CRP and blood sedimentation rate.
"The discovery of the anti-inflammatory exosomes was rather incidental", said Wehling. "During the arthritis study we were doing with Harvard University we discovered that small particles, which migrated between the inflamed joints via the lymph system, had a surprising effect. When we injected cells into a joint for treatment, the joint on the opposite side of the body also improved. This effect
did not fit the current understanding of arthritis or the role of the immune system in joint disease."
Further intensive research led the group to the discovery of anti-inflammatory exosomes, resulting in the isolation of a special form of these nanoparticles which had a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Animal experiments in arthritic mice demonstrated the efficacy of the endogenous particles in the treatment of arthritis.
MEDICA.de; Source: Center for Molecular Orthopaedics