New drugs found effective against arthritisPublished On: Thu, Jun 14th, 2007 | Health | By BioNews
June 14 : Austrian researchers have shown that a new generation of drugs— MabThera, Tocilizumab, and Orencia—have the potential to diminish signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, improve physical function and health status and retard progression of damage to joints.
The Medical University of Vienna researchers say that the drugs work by targeting the immune system.
Two of the drugs used in the trials, published in the Lancet, are licensed for use, but NHS advisers have yet to give doctors the green light to use them.
The researchers say that current therapies for the disease, including anti-inflammatory drugs, have limited effectiveness. They insist that the new generation of drugs may prove beneficial for some of the patients with arthritis.
“The many patients who obtain insufficient responses to established and novel treatments indicate the need to search for further therapies,” the BBC quoted Lead researcher Josef Smolen as saying.
“The prospects are here. All three new drugs diminish signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and improve physical function and health status and retard progression of joint damage,” he added.
MabThera, which is also used to treat lymphoma cancers, reduced symptoms of arthritis by over 50 per cent in a third of the patients in the trial. A trial combining Orencia with normal methotrexate treatment also showed a 50 per cent reduction of symptoms in around 40 per cent of the arthritis patients.
The researchers also saw a similar effect with Tocilizumab, a drug that is still being tested in clinical trials.
However, some side effects of the drugs were also observed during the trial, such as higher rates of serious infection in patients treated with MabThera or Orencia, while headaches, skin eruptions, fevers, and increased cholesterol levels among those administered Tocilizumab therapy.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which issues guidelines on which medicines should be available on the NHS, is looking at the use of MabThera and Orencia for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of the Arthritis Research Campaign, said MabThera and Orencia might offer a new hope to about a third of patients who do not benefit from current treatments.
“The results for these three drugs in such treatment-resistent patients are useful though not staggering,” he said. (ANI)