Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 25, 2022
A New Treatment Alternative

A New Treatment Alternative

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Research has shown that the monoclonal antibody olokizumab reduced inflammation in RA patients as effectively as the gold standard RA treatment of TNF inhibitor adalimumab with methotrexate. Olokizumab works by blocking interleukin-6, or IL-6, a cytokine (a type of protein that affects the immune system) that plays a role in RA. The manufacturer is expected to seek FDA approval soon, which could put the drug on the market in the near future. 

Targeting What Causes Inflammation

Targeting What Causes Inflammation

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Scientists are studying several monoclonal antibodies that target GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor) and its receptor GM-CSFR. GM-CSF increases inflammation and damages tissue. The higher your levels, the more severe the disease. In some studies, mavrilimumab, otilimab, namilumab, and lenzilumab are just a few monoclonal antibodies that improve symptoms. 

A Wearable to Ease RA Symptoms 

A Wearable to Ease RA Symptoms 

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Implanting a device surgically in the neck gives off a low-voltage electric current that stimulates the vagus nerve. This can reduce inflammation and ease symptoms. A recent study looked at a similar device that didn’t involve surgery. Instead, people wore it for 30 minutes a day. The study found that it made the disease less severe in some people.

Using Stem Cells 

Using Stem Cells 

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Inflammation between joints can cause cartilage loss as well as joint and bone damage. Researchers have injected people with mesenchymal stem cells (a type of stem cell that can regrow cartilage and bone, and lower inflammation), which improved symptoms, slowed disease activity, and may be able to repair damaged tissue. 

Cancer Therapy Could Treat RA, Too

Cancer Therapy Could Treat RA, Too

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CAR-T therapy, which is used to treat cancer, may soon be used to treat people with RA. In the therapy, the technicians draw your blood. Then they change your own T cells by adding the chimeric antigen receptor (or CAR). The genetically modified cells are then injected back into you so they can ease symptoms. 

Predicting Treatment Success

Predicting Treatment Success

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About 40% of people with RA don’t respond to medications, and some people’s bodies resist them completely – that’s called refractory RA. Researchers have looked at samples of diseased joints to identify genes and types of cells that are linked to refractory RA. These insights could point you in the direction of treatments that work. 

An Implant That Responds to Symptoms

An Implant That Responds to Symptoms

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Scientists inserted a cartilage implant under the skin of mice that included stem cells, which are basic cells that can be programmed to perform a specific function. Whenever there was a flare-up, the implant released a drug that lowered inflammation and prevented the bone from being worn down. Further study is needed for different biologics and human subjects, but researchers are optimistic. 

A Vaccine for RA?

A Vaccine for RA?

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There’s been some early research into a possible vaccine for RA. Scientists are exploring different formulas. In one study, the formula eliminated RA in mice. Other options may slow disease progression. There has been some research in humans; a phase I trial on an agent called DEN-181 showed it was safe and effective, though more research is needed to see if it can prevent RA. 

Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Care?

Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Care?

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Expanding AI could improve how doctors diagnose and treat RA. Someday, your doctor could look over your X-rays as usual, but also apply machine learning to spot any changes. They could also use data from other patients to try to predict if you’ll respond better to a certain treatment and predict how your disease may get worse. 

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