Test Results Offer New Hope to Ankylosing Spondylitis Patients

According to a recent press release, patients living with ankylosing spondylitis may soon have another treatment option. The researchers studying the new treatment, known as ixekizumab, recently posted results from a phase 3 trial. It may be especially effective for patients who have not found success with standard therapy options. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) belongs to a group of diseases known as spondyloarthropathies. The name of the disease combines the term for fused vertebrae (ankylosis), and a type of inflammatory response occurring between the pelvic bones and the joints at the base of the spine (spondylitis). As the name suggests, ankylosing spondylitis causes chronic inflammation of the spine. Inflammation may also spread to the hips, shoulders, and occasionally the knees.

In addition, AS may sometimes affect the eyes. This form of inflammation, known as uveitis, may lead to vision loss. When AS affects the spine and rib joints, breathing may become difficult. AS may also sometimes affect the lungs, heart, and nervous system. Treating and monitoring symptoms is an important part of living with AS. Specific forms of diet and exercise may be helpful, in addition to NSAIDS and biologics.

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The current treatment commonly prescribed for AS is tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors. By some estimates, as many as 30-40% of AS patients do not find this treatment effective. Furthermore, there are some patients unable to receive treatment with TNF inhibitors due to conflicting symptoms or conditions.

Ixekizumab is high-affinity monoclonal antibody. It targets a cytokine known as IL-17, which is suspected to play an important role in the development of ankylosing spondylitis. Other IL-17 inhibitors have been effective in some patients, but the category of drugs as a whole has not been well-tested in the subset of patients with AS who haven’t responded well to TNF inhibitors.

For Ixekizumab’s phase 3 trial, 316 patients were randomized into three groups. One group received a placebo, the other both received the new drug treatment at either two or four week intervals. After 16 weeks of Ixekizumab treatment, patients in the test group showed 30.6 % improvement (Ixekizumab every two weeks) and 25.4% (Ixekizumab every four weeks) improvement, in contrast to the 12.5% improvement the placebo group experienced. Some improvements were seen as early as the first week of treatment, though side effects with Ixekizumab were higher than with placebo. One death occurred in the treated group.

More information about Ixekizumab was presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting on October 24th in Chicago.

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