Dimitra Papadopoulou,1 Fani Roumelioti,1 Christos Tzaferis,1,2 Panagiotis Chouvardas,1 Anna-Kathrine Pedersen,3 Filippos Charalampous,1 Eleni Christodoulou-Vafeiadou,4 Lydia Ntari,4 Niki Karagianni,4 Maria C. Denis,4 Jesper V. Olsen,3 Alexios N. Matralis,1 and George Kollias1,2,5

1Institute for Bioinnovation, Biomedical Sciences Research Centre Alexander Fleming”, Vari, Greece. 2Department
of Physiology, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece. 3Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. 4Biomedcode Hellas SA, Vari, Greece. 5Center of New Biotechnologies & Precision Medicine, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.


Synovial fibroblasts (SFs) are key pathogenic drivers in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Their in vivo activation by TNF is sufficient to orchestrate full arthritic pathogenesis in animal models, and TNF blockade proved efficacious for a high percentage of patients with RA albeit coinducing rare but serious side effects. Aiming to find new potent therapeutics, we applied the L1000CDS2 search engine, to repurpose drugs that could reverse the pathogenic expression signature of arthritogenic human TNF–transgenic (hTNFtg) SFs. We identified a neuroleptic drug, namely amisulpride, which reduced SFs’ inflammatory potential while decreasing the clinical score of hTNFtg polyarthritis. Notably, we found that amisulpride function was neither through its known targets dopamine receptors D2 and D3 and serotonin receptor 7 nor through TNF–TNF receptor I binding inhibition. Through a click chemistry approach, potentially novel targets of amisulpride were identified, which were further validated to repress hTNFtg SFs’ inflammatory potential ex vivo (Ascc3 and Sec62), while phosphoproteomics analysis revealed that treatment altered important fibroblast activation pathways, such as adhesion. Thus, amisulpride could prove beneficial to patients experiencing RA and the often-accompanying comorbid dysthymia, reducing SF pathogenicity along with its antidepressive activity, serving further as a “lead” compound for the development of novel therapeutics against fibroblast activation.

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Our paper in Journal of Translational Medicine shows that combination of dasatinib and other kinase inhibitors with a subtherapeutic anti‐hTNF dose effectively treats arthritis pathology.


Combination of subtherapeutic anti-TNF dose with dasatinib restores clinical and molecular arthritogenic profiles better than standard anti-TNF treatment



New medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) have emerged in the last decades, including Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) and biologics. However, there is no known cure, since a significant proportion of patients remain or become non-responders to current therapies. The development of new mode-of-action treatment schemes involving combination therapies could prove successful for the treatment of a greater number of RA patients.


We investigated the effect of the Tyrosine Kinase inhibitors (TKIs) dasatinib and bosutinib, on the human TNF-dependent Tg197 arthritis mouse model. The inhibitors were administered either as a monotherapy or in combination with a subtherapeutic dose of anti-hTNF biologics and their therapeutic effect was assessed clinically, histopathologically as well as via gene expression analysis and was compared to that of an efficient TNF monotherapy.


Dasatinib and, to a lesser extent, bosutinib inhibited the production of TNF and proinflammatory chemokines from arthritogenic synovial fibroblasts. Dasatinib, but not bosutinib, also ameliorated significantly and in a dose-dependent manner both the clinical and histopathological signs of Tg197 arthritis. Combination of dasatinib with a subtherapeutic dose of anti-hTNF biologic agents, resulted in a synergistic inhibitory effect abolishing all arthritis symptoms. Gene expression analysis of whole joint tissue of Tg197 mice revealed that the combination of dasatinib with a low subtherapeutic dose of Infliximab most efficiently restores the pathogenic gene expression profile to that of the healthy state compared to either treatment administered as a monotherapy.


Our findings show that dasatinib exhibits a therapeutic effect in TNF-driven arthritis and can act in synergy with a subtherapeutic anti-hTNF dose to effectively treat the clinical and histopathological signs of the pathology. The combination of dasatinib and anti-hTNF exhibits a distinct mode of action in restoring the arthritogenic gene signature to that of a healthy profile. Potential clinical applications of combination therapies with kinase inhibitors and anti-TNF agents may provide an interesting alternative to high-dose anti-hTNF monotherapy and increase the number of patients responding to treatment.


With a new publication in Arthritis Research and Therapy, entitled “Ectopic bone formation and systemic bone loss in a transmembrane TNF-driven model of human spondyloarthritis”, Biomedcode in collaboration with George Kollias Lab at BSRC Al. Fleming, introduce the TgA86 transmembrane TNF transgenic mouse as a novel model of human spondyloarthritis (SpA).

The authors show that the TgA86 mouse model develops spontaneously peripheral arthritis and axial pathologies that closely reproduce key pathogenic features of human SpA, including distinct stages of inflammation and ectopic new bone formation. This is a chronic and complex disease model that similar to human patients also develops extraarticular comorbidities such as heart valve pathology and systemic bone loss. As with human patients in the clinic, all the pathologies of the TgA86 mouse model are reversed following early treatment with anti-hTNF therapeutics.

This novel model of SpA that captures not only specific features, but also the complexity of human disease, can prove to be an invaluable translational tool in the study of SpA pathogenesis as well as in the evaluation of human therapeutics. Read More

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis show higher mortality rates, mainly caused by cardiac comorbidities. The TghuTNF (Tg197) arthritis model develops tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-driven and mesenchymal synovial fibroblast (SF)-dependent polyarthritis. Here, we investigate whether this model develops, similarly to human patients, comorbid heart pathology and explore cellular and molecular mechanisms linking arthritis to cardiac comorbidities.

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Mesenchymal TNF signaling is etiopathogenic for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis (SpA). The role of Tnfr1 in arthritis has been documented; however, Tnfr2 functions are unknown. Here, we investigate the mesenchymal-specific role of Tnfr2 in the TnfΔARE mouse model of SpA in arthritis and heart valve stenosis comorbidity by cell-specific, Col6a1-cre-driven gene targeting. We find that TNF/Tnfr2 signaling in resident synovial fibroblasts (SFs) and valvular interstitial cells (VICs) is detrimental for both pathologies, pointing to common cellular mechanisms. In contrast, systemic Tnfr2 provides protective signaling, since its complete deletion leads to severe deterioration of both pathologies. SFs and VICs lacking Tnfr2 fail to acquire pathogenic activated phenotypes and display increased expression of antiinflammatory cytokines associated with decreased Akt signaling.
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Characterization and non-clinical assessment of the proposed etanercept biosimilar GP2015 with originator etanercept (Enbrel®). Hans-Peter Hofmann, Ulrich Kronthaler, Cornelius Fritsch, Roger Grau, Stefan O. Müller, Robert Mayer, Andreas Seidl, and Antonio Da Silva. Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy Vol. 16 , Iss. 10, 2016

Biomedcode’s human TNF transgenic arthritis model, (Tg197), contributes to the non-clinical assessment of etanercept biosimilar GP2015 with originator etanercept (Enbrel).
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Michopoulos F, Karagianni N, Whalley NM, Firth MA, Nikolaou C, Wilson ID, Critchlow SE, Kollias G, Theodoridis GA. Targeted metabolic profiling of the Tg197 mouse model reveals itaconic acid as a marker of Rheumatoid Arthritis. J Proteome Res. 15: 4579-90 (2016 ).

Biomedcode coauthors a publication in the Journal of Proteome Research on the identification of a biomarker with translational value for the diagnosis and monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis disease and therapy.
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