'Exciting breakthrough' offers hope to thousands of arthritis sufferers
Thursday 22 April 2010
A simple blood test could lead to a "new era" of tailored therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, it was claimed today.
Research has shown patients with certain immune system antibodies are more likely to respond to an advanced form of treatment. Eighty per cent of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are believed to have one of the two antibodies.
Trial results presented today show they have a good chance of being helped by the "biologic" drug rituximab, also known as MabThera, which targets the immune system.
However, it may not be worth giving the drug to the 20 per cent of patients who test negative.
Professor John Isaacs, from the University of Newcastle, who led the research, said: "This is an important breakthrough in the treatment of this chronic and debilitating condition, heralding the beginning of an exciting new era for patients, physicians and indeed the entire RA community.
"Conventional practice is based on treating the patient population as a whole, leading to some patients cycling on ineffective treatments before achieving the optimum response.
"By identifying in advance which groups are most likely to respond to, or to have an enhanced response to, drugs like rituximab, we can ensure they are treated early enough to prevent irreversible joint damage and disability. Additionally, this will reduce treatment costs by avoiding the use of ineffective drugs."
RA is a disabling auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks the body's own joints. An estimated 690,000 people suffer from the disease in the UK, and 26,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Care and treatment of people with RA combined with the economic burden of lost employment is believed to cost the UK almost £8bn a year.
The new research, presented today at the British Society of Rheumatology annual meeting in Welwyn Garden City, pooled data from two studies comparing patients who tested positive or negative for the antibodies.
All 670 patients responded poorly to standard treatments with Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs such as methotrexate (MTX).
The results showed that 13.2% of positive-testing patients treated with rituximab plus MTX were in remission and no longer showing symptoms after 48 weeks compared with 5.9% of patients who tested negative.
Positive-testing patients on rituximab were three times more likely to experience significant improvement of symptoms than those lacking either of the antibodies.
Life & Style blogs
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
From Miley Cyrus' bondage outfit to Rihanna's nipple pasties: Who wore what at the amfAR Inspiration Gala
Manuel Noriega fails in bid to sue Call of Duty makers for using his likeness in video game
Sex with more than 20 women 'reduces risk of prostate cancer'
Six months on bail – for being sent spoof video of a ‘tiger’ having sex, that was really a man in a tiger suit
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...
£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...
£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...