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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 07:12 GMT
'Magic bullet' could ease side effects
An arthritis sufferer
Rheumatoid arthritis affects up to eight million people
A "magic bullet" treatment could be the key to cutting the side effects of drugs used to treat arthritis, claim researchers.

The breakthrough by Dr Declan Naughton comes after he spent a decade researching rheumatoid arthritis, which is suffered by up to eight million people in the UK.

Dr Naughton's work centres on vitamin E, which he claims will cut the "serious" side effects when it is chemically attached to the anti-arthritis drug.

The work of the University of Brighton doctor has led to the creation of a new company to develop the treatment further.

This is a real opportunity to by-pass the side effects that currently limit the use of steroids

Dr Declan Naughton
Dr Naughton, from the university's School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, explained the "magic bullet" will ensure the anti-arthritis drug is only released in the specific areas of the body affected by the disease.

He said: "It is the most exciting finding I've ever made, in all the years I've been studying the arthritic joint.

"Since the Nobel Prize was awarded 51 years ago for the discovery of steroids and their use to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the race has been on to overcome the related serious side effects."

The key to the discovery came when Dr Naughton identified that body tissue in an arthritic joint has a low-oxygen content.

He said that by chemically attaching the anti-arthritis drug to vitamin E in the lab, the vitamin envelops the drug and only releases it into the tissue that is depleted of oxygen.

Toxic molecules

"This is a real opportunity to by-pass the side effects that currently limit the use of these amazing drugs (steroids)," added Dr Naughton.

Side effects from the drugs can include thinning of the skin, muscle weakness and brittle bones.

Dr Naughton's findings have just been published in the international journal "Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews".

The company, Manchester Incubator Ltd, has been set up after Dr Naughton secured patent pending on his treatment.

It will work closely with the University of Manchester to carry out further developments on the treatment.

In recent years, Dr Naughton's team has also been noted for its discovery of a treatment for ridding the body of toxic molecules.

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See also:

03 Jul 00 | Health
Drug combats rheumatoid arthritis
26 Jul 00 | Health
Coffee linked to arthritis
13 Feb 01 | Health
Heavy smokers' arthritis risk
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