Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists discover how gold eases pain of arthritis

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center may have solved the mystery surrounding the healing properties of gold – a discovery they say may renew interest in gold salts as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Physicians first used injections of gold salts in the early 1900s to ease the pain and swelling associated with arthritis. But treatment came at a high cost: The shots took months to take effect and side effects included rashes, mouth sores, kidney damage and occasionally, problems with the bone marrow’s ability to make new blood cells. Recently, new treatments like methotrexate and biologically engineered drugs have replaced gold as a preferred treatment, and gold salts, while remaining effective, are usually administered as a last resort.

But Dr. David Pisetsky, chief of the division of rheumatology and immunology in the department of medicine at Duke, says “we shouldn’t dismiss gold salts so quickly. We scientists have really never understood why gold works. Now that we have a better handle on its action, we may be able to use that mechanism to create new and better gold-like drugs to treat arthritis.”

Pisetsky had long been interested in a particular molecule, HMBG1, which provokes inflammation, the key process underlying the development of rheumatoid arthritis. HMBG1 is a dual-function molecule, which means that it behaves one way when it’s inside the nucleus of a cell, and quite another way when it’s released from the cell.

Pisetsky says that inside the nucleus, HMGB1 is a key player in transcription, the process that converts genetic information in DNA to its RNA equivalent. But when HMGB1 is released from the cell – either through normal processes or cell death – it becomes a stimulus to the immune system and enhances inflammation.

“Interestingly, HMGB1 is not produced evenly throughout the body,” says Pisetsky.

“There is an unusually high amount of it in the synovial tissue and fluid around the joints – where arthritis occurs.”

Pisetsky, working with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, stimulated mouse and human immune system cells to secrete HMGB1, then treated them with gold salts. They found that the gold blocked the release of HMGB1 from the nucleus. That, in turn, should lessen the amount available to provoke the body’s immune system, weakening the inflammatory response.

“Basically, keeping HMGB1 corralled inside the nucleus is a good thing, when it comes to arthritis,” says Pisetsky.

Pisetsky says gold inhibits the release of HMGB1 by interfering with the activity of two helper molecules that ease HMGB1’s release from the cell, interferon beta and nitric oxide.

The study will appear in the January, 2008 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, but a preprint is already online at the journal’s website at:

“Now that we have identified at least one of the ways gold can help arthritis sufferers, perhaps we can use that knowledge to build new and safer-acting, gold-based treatments,” says Pisetsky, a senior author of the study.

Pisetsky is encouraged by the results but says additional studies need to be done to find out if the same mechanism is active in animals and people and not just in laboratory studies.

Michelle Gailiun | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Solid progress in carbon capture

27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>