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Arthritis sufferers offered hope


Sufferers of psoriatic arthritis (PA) could soon benefit from a treatment that is found to ameliorate the skin ailment associated with the condition.

A study from the Tufts Medical Centre, in the US, looked at patients with PA from 24 sites in Europe and North America and found that the drug ustekinumab was three times more effective at producing a clinical response in patients than a placebo.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects between 10% and 30% of people suffering from the chronic skin condition psoriasis. Some patients do not respond to conventional drug treatments, and thus alternatives are needed.

Findings suggest that certain interleukins – a type of protein that mediates communication between cells – might affect clinical symptoms and pathological joint changes of psoriatic arthritis. Ustekinumab works by preventing the interleukins from binding to cell membranes.

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Study author, Dr Alice Gottlieb, wrote online in the Lancet: “Our findings show that ustekinumab is efficacious and safe for treatment of active psoriatic arthritis.

“Our study is one of the first to implicate the role of interleukin 12/23 P40 cytokines in the pathophysiology of this disorder… Larger and longer term studies are needed to further characterise ustekinumab efficacy and safety for treatment of psoriatic arthritis.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Tufts Medical Centre

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