New test could predict arthritis drug failure in patients


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New test could predict arthritis drug failure in patients


Date: 06/07/2015

A study of 311 patients by The University of Manchester has found that it may be possible to predict early which rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients will fail to respond to the biologic drugs given to treat them. These findings could help better manage patients’ symptoms.

RA is a chronic disease which affects up to 1.5% of the population.  It is a significant health burden for patients, who can experience pain, reduced mobility and premature death unless they receive effective treatment. 

Biologics are a relatively new form of treatment for RA.  Given by injection, they work by stopping particular chemicals in the blood from activating the immune system and attacking the joints.  Biologics are usually given in combination with an anti-rheumatic, such as methotrexate, once the anti-rheumatic alone is no longer effective.

Biologic drugs have dramatically improved the long-term health of people with severe RA, reducing symptoms as well as joint damage and disability. However, in about one in five patients the treatment stops working after a few months – sometimes as a result of anti-drug antibodies being formed – limiting their effectiveness.

In order to detect the antibodies and to measure the drug levels in the bloodstream, previously it was thought that the testing to detect the anti-drug antibodies and measure drug levels in the bloodstream, would only be helpful if performed immediately before the next dose of drug was due, when the drug levels are at their lowest in the body.

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Source: University of Manchester

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