Toward New Targeted Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

New research led by University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members Fan Zhang, Ph.D., and Anna Helena Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D., may lead to new targeted treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and destruction.

The AMP: RA/SLE Network collected inflamed tissue from 70 patients with RA from across the country and the United Kingdom. Jonsson supervised the team of scientists who processed these samples for analysis, and Zhang led the computation analysis of the data. These efforts yielded a cell atlas encompassing more than 300,000 cells from synovial tissue. Further analysis revealed that there are six different subgroups of RA based on their cellular makeup.

Jonsson, who is a practicing rheumatologist as well as a researcher, knows that RA patients respond differently to different treatments. Until now, she says, rheumatologists used a “guess and check” method to find a treatment that works for an individual patient.

With the new data and powerful computational classification methods developed by Zhang and the computational analysis team, the researchers were able to quantitatively classify RA types into what they call “cell-type abundance phenotypes,” or CTAPs. Developed methods, together with the new cell atlas, can start to identify which patients will respond to which treatments.

“The research on inflammation subgroups might also be used to study other autoimmune diseases or immune responses to cancer or infection. From there, it might be leveraged for increased understanding across multiple different kinds of diseases,” Jonsson says.


Fan Zhang, Anna Helena Jonsson, Aparna Nathan, Nghia Millard, Michelle Curtis, Qian Xiao, Maria Gutierrez-Arcelus, William Apruzzese, Gerald F. M. Watts, Dana Weisenfeld, Saba Nayar, Javier Rangel-Moreno, Nida Meednu, Kathryne E. Marks, Ian Mantel, Joyce B. Kang, Laurie Rumker, Joseph Mears, Kamil Slowikowski, Kathryn Weinand, Dana E. Orange, Laura Geraldino-Pardilla, Kevin D. Deane, Darren Tabechian, Arnoldas Ceponis, Gary S. Firestein, Mark Maybury, Ilfita Sahbudin, Ami Ben-Artzi, Arthur M. Mandelin, Alessandra Nerviani, Myles J. Lewis, Felice Rivellese, Costantino Pitzalis, Laura B. Hughes, Diane Horowitz, Edward DiCarlo, Ellen M. Gravallese, Brendan F. Boyce, Jennifer Albrecht, Jennifer L. Barnas, Joan M. Bathon, David L. Boyle, S. Louis Bridges, Debbie Campbell, Hayley L. Carr, Adam Chicoine, Andrew Cordle, Patrick Dunn, Lindsy Forbess, Peter K. Gregersen, Joel M. Guthridge, Lionel B. Ivashkiv, Kazuyoshi Ishigaki, Judith A. James, Gregory Keras, Ilya Korsunsky, Amit Lakhanpal, James A. Lederer, Zhihan J. Li, Yuhong Li, Andrew McDavid, Mandy J. McGeachy, Karim Raza, Yakir Reshef, Christopher Ritchlin, William H. Robinson, Saori Sakaue, Jennifer A. Seifert, Anvita Singaraju, Melanie H. Smith, Dagmar Scheel-Toellner, Paul J. Utz, Michael H. Weisman, Aaron Wyse, Zhu Zhu, Larry W. Moreland, Susan M. Goodman, Harris Perlman, V. Michael Holers, Katherine P. Liao, Andrew Filer, Vivian P. Bykerk, Kevin Wei, Deepak A. Rao, Laura T. Donlin, Jennifer H. Anolik, Michael B. Brenner, Soumya Raychaudhuri. Deconstruction of rheumatoid arthritis synovium defines inflammatory subtypes. Nature, 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06708-y

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. (2023, November 8). Toward new targeted treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 9, 2023 from

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