Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The sustained benefits of very early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with anti-TNF-alpha therapy


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 (

Based at Leeds General Infirmary, the research team recruited twenty patients with a diagnosis of RA meeting the American College of Rheumatology’s criteria. On average, the patients had complained of disease symptoms for six months. None had ever been prescribed DMARDs or steroids. At the study’s onset, the patients were randomly divided into two treatment groups. One group received a standard dosage of a TNF-alpha inhibitor, infliximab (also known by the commercial name Remicade), while the other group received the a placebo. Patients in both groups also began a course of escalating DMARD therapy with methotrexate. DMARDs are drugs that improve the signs and symptoms of RA and reduce damage as shown by joint X-rays

All twenty RA patients adhered to their assigned treatment for a full year. To closely monitor the impact of anti-TFN-alpha therapy on synovitis, the inflammation of the membrane lining the joints, as well as bone erosions, every patient underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the hand at baseline, at four weeks, and then at eight-week intervals until 54 weeks. The MRI scans were repeated a final time at 104 weeks – one year after the patients stopped taking infliximab.

At its one-year culmination, the study achieved its primary goal for RA patients given the advantage of early anti-TNF-alpha therapy: disease remission to avert joint damage. At 14 weeks, according to the MRI findings, patients taking infliximab combined with methotrexate showed a significant reduction in levels of synovitis compared to their baseline scores and to their counterparts. At 24 weeks, the infliximab group had significantly fewer new telltale signs of joint erosions than the placebo group. Throughout the course of the study, up to week 104, remission rates were greater among those patients prescribed infliximab plus methotrexate. 7 out of 10 of the patients had met the ACR response criteria for remission, compared with 2 out of 10 patients in the placebo plus methotrexate group.

One year after withdrawing from anti-TNF-alpha therapy, the patients in this group continued to experience therapeutic benefits. These patients scored significantly higher on measures of function and quality of life than the patients who had been treated with conventional DMARDs alone. "This appears to emphasize the importance of not only adequate disease suppression over time, but also of rapid disease suppression for optimal improvement in these outcomes," notes the study’s author, Mark A. Quinn. "Rapid control of disease activity may prevent patients from entering the ’sick role’ and may avoid the socioeconomic disadvantages associated with chronic illness, which extend beyond the anti-inflammatory nature of the therapy."

Despite the small sample of patients, this study has important implications for the most effective, affordable, short-term use of anti-TNF-alpha therapy, at the very early stages of RA. "Large-scale studies are under way to confirm these findings," Quinn reports.

Amy Molnar | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>