Drug to prevent rheumatoid arthritis – new trial launches

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Abatacept prevent rheumatoid arthritis digestA drug being tested could bring hope to millions of people at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Current drugs aim to treat the disease once it has set in, but the new drug – abatacept – could prevent people from developing rheumatoid arthritis in the first place.
Abatacept is already licensed for treating people with established rheumatoid arthritis. It works by reducing the immune system’s attack on normal tissues by interfering with the immune cells (called T lymphocytes) that contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Now a research team will test the drug in a large experimental trial over the next two years, involving over two hundred people who are at high-risk of developing the disease. The volunteers will be people who have evidence of an autoimmune response in their blood and joint pains but no joint swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis currently affects more than 500,000 people in the UK and 1.5 million people in the US, causing great pain and in some cases, disability. There are about 20,000 new cases of rheumatoid arthritis in the UK every year.
Professor Andrew Cope, who is leading the study, comments:
“This is a very exciting study of a therapy that is a logical choice for the very earliest detectable phase of the disease process. This is an important first step towards curing this chronic, disabling disease that affects over half a million adults in the UK.”

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Image credit: Andrew Stafford

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