New RA Drugs Show Promise
Pipeline Is Packed With New Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments
WebMD News Archive
New Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs continued...
Denosumab. This drug works differently than TNF-blockers. Denosumab
targets a protein involved in the destruction of joints known as RANK ligand.
But it doesn’t have any effect on the symptoms of RA.
“It is just affecting RANK ligand, and RANK ligand is involved in the bony
erosions, not the overall process that leads to signs and symptoms,” explains
Desiree van der Heijde, MD, a rheumatologist at the Leiden University Medical
Center in the Netherlands.
Ofatamumab (HuMax-CD20). Another new agent, ofatamumab, targets
B-cells, which are cells of the immune system that are believed to play a role
in causing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. This drug binds to the
surface of B-cells, effectively killing them off.
New research presented here shows that people with RA who received the drug
did better than those who received a placebo or dummy pill. People with RA who
were also taking methotrexate in combination with ofatamumab responded better
than those taking the ofatamumab alone, says researcher Mikkel Ostergaard, MD,
of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
Tocilizumab. This drug blocks another inflammatory chemical known as
interleukin-6 (IL-6). New research presented here showed that it significantly
reduces inflammation in RA within about two weeks' time. When given at the
highest dose used in the study, it normalized levels of C-reactive protein,
which is an indicator of inflammation in the body.
There were some side effects, however, including infections and an increase
in levels of blood cholesterol and liver enzymes, reports Josef Smolen, MD, a
rheumatologist at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.
But “there was a rapid and significant improvement in the signs and symptoms
of RA,” he says.