The use of oral bioengineered probiotics for treating rheumatoid arthritis may replace painful injections

Therapeutic approaches that combine efficacy and minimum side effects are necessary for the effective management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and several other institutions have devised a revolutionary method for the oral delivery of Kv1.3 channel blocker using a bioengineered probiotic, which may help in replacing injections for targeted drug delivery. The researchers used the Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic oral system for the delivery of Kv1.3 blocker in rat models of atopic dermatitis and RA. The results have been published in the 2023 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

L. reuteri was chosen by experts because it is a naturally occurring bacteria in both human and animal guts. The researchers noted that the single oral gavage with LrS235 in rat models contributed to sufficient functional ShK-235 in circulation. The peptide helped to reduce inflammation in a delayed-type hypersensitivity model of atopic dermatitis through preferential inhibition of human T effector memory (TEM) lymphocyte proliferation in vitro. In addition, the daily oral gavage effectively reduced joint inflammation and clinical signs of disease without eliciting immunogenicity against ShK-235.

Zhang et al. in 2022 have concluded the efficacy of another revolutionary approach, i.e transdermal drug delivery, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. They have noted that the transdermal delivery systems involving gels, patches, and microneedles may improve bioavailability and compliance, and reduce gastrointestinal side effects.

In the future, this medicine delivery system could have significant implications in the management of a variety of chronic inflammatory disorders by replacing daily painful injections with convenient oral peptide-based medications. This new therapeutic approach may also help to improve patient compliance.


  1. Yuqing Wang, Duolong Zhu, Laura C. Ortiz-Velez, Jacob L. Perry, Michael W. Pennington, Joseph M. Hyser, Robert A. Britton, Christine Beeton. A bioengineered probiotic for the oral delivery of a peptide Kv1.3 channel blocker to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2023; 120 (2).
  2. Zhang Y, Gao Z, Chao S, Lu W, Zhang P. Transdermal delivery of inflammatory factors regulated drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. Drug Deliv. 2022 Dec;29(1):1934-1950.