Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1% of the global population. Symptoms occur when antibodies attack synovial joint fluid, resulting in chronic inflammation and pain. It is an autoimmune disorder, which can flare up and trigger different symptoms at different times. Symptoms are managed with a combination of diet, exercise, medication and surgery, but researchers are now also looking towards peptides to aid with rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
What Are Peptides?
A peptide is a naturally occurring compound made up of two or more amino acids linked in a chain. It is similar in structure to a protein but smaller, consisting of between two and 50 amino acids (proteins, in contrast, contain over 50). Peptides are found in every cell in the human body, and play an important role in many essential functions. Clinical trials are currently ongoing, researching whether certain peptides may be able to prevent the immune system from attacking its own tissue, and in the case of someone with rheumatoid arthritis, stop attacking joint tissue.
Could A Peptide Help With RA?
In trials with rats, BPC-157, a peptide found in the stomach’s gastric juice, has been shown to positively affect arthritic inflammation. The positive effect was shown consistently after just two weeks of medication. According to Dr Nina Bausek, BPC-157 has been shown not only to prevent the development of arthritis, but also to reverse the effects of established arthritis. With few effective treatment options available to those living with rheumatoid arthritis, the peptide could prove to be an important therapeutic tool for patients. While many peptides are broken down by gastric juices, the origins of BPC-157 mean that it is stable in the stomach, which makes it a more viable option for treatment of inflammatory conditions.
How Can BPC-157 Be Used?
BPC-157 can be applied topically, dissolved in water or administered as an injection directly into the joint. This method of application is more likely to be beneficial in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis because it enables concentrated amounts to be applied directly to the affected area. Research to date has focused largely on animals, but studies are ongoing in relation to the peptide’s success in humans. For this reason, it is difficult to establish the optimum dosage at this stage, but as clinical trials progress, more information on dosage and administration will become available.
While we await the results of clinical trials, research remains promising, and it is hoped that peptides could be used in the effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the near future.