We are excited to introduce you to our new RTCure member, Fiona Cooke. Fiona is a Research Associate at Newcastle University.
"I’m excited to be part of a project that could change the lives of RA patients. It’s an extraordinary feeling knowing that my work will be translated into a clinical trial and provide meaningful results."
The goal of the Autologous Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells for Rheumatoid Arthritis 2 (AuToDeCRA 2) clinical trial is to provide a treatment for the relief and improvement of inflammation in patients suffering from RA. The aim is to repair the underlying immune defect in these patients, i.e. the loss of immune tolerance. We will do this by building on what we have learned from the first AuToDeCRA clinical trial using our novel immune tolerising treatment with so-called tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDC). By employing tolDC to induce drug-free remission we will be freeing RA patients from potential lifelong treatments, an objective that is in line with the goals of RTCure.
To achieve this we aim to:
Assess the best route of delivery for our cellular product – in order to achieve optimal therapeutic effect, should tolDC be injected into the joint, the skin, or directly into a lymph node?
Improve the specificity of our product – to ensure that tolDC only repair the faulty part of the immune system, whilst leaving normal, protective immunity intact.
Track the product after it is administered to RA patients by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – to understand better where and how this treatment works.
So far in the project we have optimised production of tolDC that can target faulty immune cells in a specific manner, and we have established methods for quality control. Furthermore, we have tested that the tolDC can be loaded with an imaging agent, suitable for MRI, without affecting the function of these cells.
The next steps in our project are to work with the Cellular Therapies team to translate the laboratory research into the clinical setting. Whilst the clinical trial is being prepared, research will continue into setting up new methods to measure how tolDC treatment affects the faulty immune response in RA patients. This work will provide us with novel insights into the efficacy of route of treatment and clarify the sites of the body (and potentially other cells) that tolDC are interacting with.