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Tuesday 23rd January 2018

Hope for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

22nd April 2010

New research has given fresh hope to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.

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It has been claimed that a simple blood test could lead to a "new era" of tailored therapy for rheumatoid arthritis after research showed patients with certain immune system antibodies were more likely to respond to an advanced form of treatment.

With 80% of RA patients believed to have one of the two antibodies, new trial results suggest they have a good chance of being helped by the drug rituximab which targets the immune system.

The research presented at the British Society of Rheumatology annual meeting used pooled data from two studies comparing patients who tested positive or negative for the antibodies.

Lead researcher Professor John Isaacs 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."

The 670 patients in the trial responded poorly to treatments with Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs such as methotrexate (MTX).

However, 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.


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