Remicade (infliximab) is able to reverse the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

A new study published today in Arthritis & Rheumatism demonstrates that Remicade (infliximab) is able to reverse the symptoms of the debilitating disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in patients who are newly diagnosed.

Carried out by the University of Leeds' Department of Rheumatology at Leeds General Infirmary and led by Professor Paul Emery, it is the first study to show a prolonged response to treatment in patients with early RA which continued after Remicade had ceased to be administered.

Commenting on the results of the study, Paul Emery, Professor of Rheumatology said, 'We are very encouraged and very excited by the results of this study which show that if we use treatments like Remicade early we can achieve rapid suppression of inflammation and disease remission. It offers a real 'window of opportunity' to maximise the quality of life of patients with this debilitating disease and in the patients we have seen, meant that many can continue working or keep up the activities that they love.'

The study conducted in patients with poor prognosis early RA who had no history of treatment with Disease Modifying Anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) showed that those patients receiving infusions of Remicade in combination with the drug methotrexate demonstrated a significantly greater reduction in synovitis (inflammation of the tissue protecting the joints) bone erosions, and bone oedema (accumulation of fluid) over the methotrexate alone arm after twelve months of therapy.

After infliximab therapy was stopped at twelve months patients were monitored for disease flare, which previous studies have shown to take place soon after the cessation of treatment. When measured at two years remission rates among patients who had received Remicade were 70% compared to 20% in the methotrexate only treated group and patient joint function and quality of life were also significantly higher.

It is hoped that the results of this exciting pilot study will be replicated in larger trials for which patients are currently being recruited.

RA is a chronic, debilitating inflammatory disease causing loss of function in the joints. In the UK approximately 387,000 people are affected by RA, symptoms of which include inflammation of the joints, swelling, difficulty moving, and pain.

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