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Arthritis Awareness Month: Moving towards change

Published Online: April 29th 2022
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Arthritis Awareness Month: Moving towards change

Joint disease is one of the most common causes of pain, disability and work impairment, affecting an estimated 350 million people worldwide. Arthritis exists in over 100 different forms, though rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common. 

In the UK alone, almost 9 million people (or ~13% of the population) are affected by osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000. In the US, arthritic conditions are the leading cause of disability with nearly 53 million diagnosed.

This is why May is dedicated to Arthritis Awareness Month. It’s a chance to bring this debilitating condition to the forefront of people’s minds and help affect change.

Because despite its prevalence around the world, the number of people diagnosed is expected to grow. So the question is, why aren’t those numbers projected to go down? 

Our Editor-in-Chief, Peter Taylor, explains that, in the case of osteoarthritis, “Identification of effective disease-modifying drugs remains a major unmet need…” 

But that doesn’t mean there’s been no progression. Let’s look at where things could be heading.

Osteoarthritis treatment landscape

Professor Tonia Vincent of the Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis at the University of Oxford, spoke to touchIMMUNOLOGY during our coverage of ACR Convergence 2021 to discuss the new osteoarthritis therapies on the horizon.

She highlights that “… things are being developed by a number of different smallish companies” and that they’re “largely related to intraarticular delivery”. Others relate to innovative methods of delivering novel treatments into cells, like targeting MicroRNA’s, siRNA therapies and cell therapy.

Professor Tonia Vincent also points to the highly experimental therapies in preclinical models showing “striking biological effects” that “might well end up being appropriate for giving to patients”.

Watch our interview with Professor Tonia Vincent to learn more

ALSO WATCH: Delve deeper into the landscape of therapeutics for osteoarthritis in this interview with Professor Tonia Vincent.

While developments are slower-going for osteoarthritis treatment, Peter Taylor notes that there’s a stark contrast in the case of inflammatory joint diseases: “… there have been extraordinary advances in the discovery and approval of highly efficacious interventions over recent years.”

Here are a few of those exciting advances. 

Inflammatory joint diseases

Professor Merav Lidar of Sheba Medical Center joined us at the ACR Convergence 2021 to discuss the 24-week efficacy and safety results from the KEEPsaKE2 phase 3 randomised, double-blind trial investigating risankizumab in adults with psoriatic arthritis. 

She describes this humanized immunoglobulin G1 monoclonal antibody as “… a wonderful drug to add to the toolbox for patients with psoriatic arthritis”, noting that it’s “… a very safe drug with a very convenient dosing schedule … given subcutaneously once every 12 weeks.” 

It was also found to be “very efficacious for enthesitis and dactylitis, which are very difficult for the patients. Sometimes they cause these patients very severe pain and disability.”

Learn more about the KEEPsaKE2 trial findings by watching Professor Merav Lidar.

ALSO WATCH: 

  • Discover the results from the further exploratory analysis of the phase 2 trial investigating the TYK2 inhibitor, deucravacitinib, in patients with psoriatic arthritis treated with and without background conventional synthetic DMARDs with Professor Atul Deodhar.
  • Discussion about the long-term impact of the IgG1 inhibitor, bimekizumab, on patient-reported outcomes from the phase 2b BE ACTIVE study and its open-label extension with Professor Laure Gossec.

Visit our Conference Hub for even more updates on the latest science around arthritis.

With multiple therapies in the pipeline and continuous advancements in treatments for inflammatory joint disease, we hope that this is reflected in the development of osteoarthritis disease-modifying drugs in the years to come.

In the meantime, though it is not possible to prevent arthritis entirely, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight should be widely encouraged.

Equally important, Peter Taylor continues, is:

“… to prevent progressive joint damage, preserve function and optimise quality of life over time, early identification of joint disease and specialist referral is imperative. When this is the case, the long-term outlook for people living with inflammatory joint disease is better than ever before.”

That’s why touchIMMUNOLOGY supports Arthritis Awareness Month and its global goal to find better treatments and improve the lives of people living with all forms of arthritis. You can find out more about the ongoing efforts to treat arthritis by digesting our library of content, including video interviews, conference highlights, journal articles and clinical trial updates.

Alternatively, you can get in touch to find out how you can benefit from our educational activities and regularly updated content.

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