Promising new evidence for the optimal use of biologic therapies
A major cause of pain and disability, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is also potentially the most treatable form of chronic arthritis. Researchers, doctors, and patients agree that a group of drugs called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can effectively reduce joint pain and stiffness. Yet, even when prescribed early and aggressively, DMARDs alone do not guarantee the desired outcome: the rapid and prolonged suppression of inflammation needed to induce remission.
Fortunately, there is new hope for treating RA early and experiencing long-lasting gains. Biologic agents that target tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha – a protein known for provoking inflammation – have been successfully used to curtail the activity of rheumatoid arthritis among other chronic inflammatory conditions. Recently, a team of researchers in the United Kingdom set out to test the effectiveness of anti-TNF-alpha therapy on a small sample of patients with very early, poor-prognosis, previously untreated RA. The promising results and practical treatment implications of their pilot study are featured in the January 2005 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis).
Amy Molnar | EurekAlert!
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