A “new era” of tailored therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) could be ushered in by a simple blood test.
An advanced form of treatment is more likely to be successful for patients with certain immune system antibodies, new research has shown.
One of two antibodies are thought to be possessed by 80 per cent of patients suffering with RA.
Trial results presented 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 the other 20% 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.”
Copyright Press Association 2010
The British Society for Rheumatology