RA Research Initiative

Removing the Guesswork

Today, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. – most of them women. The disease can be highly unpredictable, with extreme inflammation, rapid progression and joint degradation in one patient while causing limited inflammation and a small degree of joint deterioration in another. Such variation makes RA difficult to treat and means the medication and dosage that treats one patient’s RA may prove toxic or ineffective for another. Safe and effective treatment depends on a range of factors, from an individual’s physiology to her environment and lifestyle.

Thanks to the Arthritis Foundation’s research program in RA, Foundation-funded RA research now focuses on discovering and developing tools that will allow physicians to implement personalized treatment plans for individuals with RA.

More specifically, the goals of the Foundation’s RA research program include:

• Identifying reliable genetic and environmental factors that may predict who gets RA;

• Determining which drugs are most effective for specific patients based on how long they’ve had the disease, its progression, genetics, etc.;

• Developing and validating ways to predict disease outcome, measure response to treatment, and identify specific subsets of people with RA

• Developing strategies and treatments that will slow progression and inhibit long-term effects of the disease.

To help achieve these goals, the Foundation launched the Arthritis Internet Registry (AIR) as a cornerstone of its Rheumatoid Arthritis Flagship Research Initiative.

Large clinical databases, such as AIR, where comprehensive patient data is recorded will provide researchers with a basis for analyzing similarities and differences between patients and their responses to specific treatments. Through this initiative, AIR will establish a solid database of information to guide researchers to newer and safer drug therapies for arthritis patients. We will also help physicians determine the best course of personalized care for every RA patient from the outset of their treatment. Ultimately, we will give patients and their families confidence in the safety and efficacy of treatments that may not only stop the progress of their disease, but also restore their quality of life.

To build on the learnings that patient registries can provide, the Arthritis Foundation has also committed in 2012 more than $1.6 million in research grants to study RA. We believe that through our investment in AIR and RA research, we will reach a significant milestone by the year 2020, when physicians will be able to rely on genetic profiles of each patient to provide specifically tailored, individualized treatment.

How You Can Help

Unless we reverse the trend, an estimated 67 million Americans will have arthritis by the year 2030. To curtail these numbers and achieve our research goals, the Arthritis Foundation needs your help. To learn more about how you can give click here.