Key Studies Advance Understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can be a devastating disease and affects 1.3 million people in the United States. Fortunately, a large number of medicines have been introduced for the treatment of this disease during the last decade.

The challenge now is to learn which of these medications works best for individual patients.

To take on this challenge of bringing personalized medicine to people with rheumatoid arthritis, we continue to support the Treatment Efficacy and Toxicity in Rheumatoid Arthritis Database (TETRAD). This nationwide database will identify clinical and genetic features of people with rheumatoid arthritis to help predict individual reactions to various treatments.

With Arthritis Foundation support in 2009, TETRAD investigators were successful in acquiring $4 million in NIH funding to establish the initial phase of data collection.

Our understanding of rheumatoid arthritis also took great steps forward in 2009, thanks to several studies endorsed and/or sponsored in part by the Arthritis Foundation.

  • A study with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts demonstrated how blood platelets can impact inflammation and helped explain why some newer medications are sometimes ineffective in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Another study, sponsored in part by the Canadian Arthritis Society, focused on controlling specific harmful autoimmune responses – an approach that promises to be more effective, safer and longer lasting than many presently available medications for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • A third study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, assessed the potential cost-effectiveness of three major therapeutic strategies for very early rheumatoid arthritis. While further studies are needed to define the optimal time to begin treatment with newer biologic medications, early intervention is clearly essential.

     

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