Researchers have identified a new and potentially exciting way to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The condition is caused when the body's own immune system attacks the joints and leads to chronic pain and inflammation.
A team from Newcastle University funded by Arthritis Research UK have discovered an approach which could effectively prevents white blood cells from reaching the joints and causing more damage.
Lead author Dr Graeme O'Boyle explained, theoretically, that damaged joints are signalling white blood cells using 'flags'.
"Traditional treatments have involved pulling down the flags one by one but what we have done is use an agent which in effect 'blindfolds' the white blood cells. Therefore, they don't know which way to travel and so won't add to the damage," he said.
Although in its early stages, the scientists are hopeful that they will be able to transfer the findings to humans.
In the meantime, Kate Llewelyn, head of information at Arthritis Care, said that complimentary therapies like aromatherapy and hydrotherapy can be helpful alongside convention medicine.
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