Affiliation: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33612-4799.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systematic autoimmune disease which affects about 1% of the population world wide. This article aimed to identify current therapeutic targets for RA based on data from the literature and drug target related databases. Identified targets were further analysed using a powerful bioinformatics tool, PANTHER (Protein ANalysis THrough Evolutionary Relationships). Additionally, we explored future possible therapeutic targets for RA and discussed the possibility of discovering novel drugs with improved efficacy and reduced toxicity for RA treatment. Data on current clinical drugs for RA treatment were extracted from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) website. Candidate targets of RA were extracted from three online databases: Drugbank, Therapeutic Target Database (TTD) and Potential Drug Target Database (PDTD). A total of 95 clinical protein targets for RA have been identified and were analysed using the PANTHER Classification System. According to the PANTHER analysis, most commonly involved pathways in current RA targeting includes inflammation mediated by chemokine and cytokine signalling pathways, angiogenesis, p53 pathway, de novo purine biosynthesis, T-cell activation, apoptosis signalling pathway and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor signalling pathway. Accordingly, current clinical agents for the treatment of RA mainly include corticosteroids, non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In addition, a number of investigational targets for RA have been identified and many novel drugs for RA therapy are under investigation. Current approaches to handle RA aim to ameliorate inflammation, to relieve pain, and most importantly to protect the cartilage, joints and bones from further damage by blocking proinflammatory molecules and inhibit the production of matrix-degrading factors. New drugs for RA with improved efficacy and safety should be developed.