To show that a new recombinant protein (MT07) obtained by fusing a synovial-homing peptide to a neutralizing antibody to C5 can be selectively delivered to inflamed synovium and can effectively control joint inflammation in experimental models of arthritis.
Binding of MT07 to human, rat, and mouse synovial tissue was evaluated in vitro by immunofluorescence, and selective localization in the inflamed joints of rats was documented in vivo using time-domain optical imaging. The antiinflammatory effect of MT07 was tested in a rat model of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) and in a mouse model of collagen antibody–induced arthritis (CAIA).
MT07 was able to bind to samples of inflamed synovium from humans, mice, and rats while failing to recognize uninflamed synovium as well as inflamed mouse lung or rat kidney. In vivo analysis of the biodistribution of MT07 confirmed its preferential homing to inflamed joints, with negligible inhibition of circulating C5 levels. MT07 prevented and resolved established inflammation in a rat model of AIA, as demonstrated by changes in joint swelling, polymorphonuclear cell counts in synovial washes, release of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor α, and tissue damage. A similar therapeutic effect was obtained testing MT07 in a CAIA model.
Our findings show that the novel recombinant molecule MT07 has the unique ability to selectively target inflamed joints and to exert local control of the inflammatory process by neutralizing the complement system without interfering with circulating C5 levels. We believe that this approach can be extended to other antiinflammatory drugs currently used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis.