According to a story from Juvenile Arthritis News, a recent study has found that the drug leflunomide (marketed as Arava) may be a viable treatment for juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients, particularly for those that are unable to tolerate treatment with methotrexate. The original study can be found in the scientific journal Rheumatology International. Methotrexate, an immune system suppressor and chemotherapy agent, is a common treatment for the disease, but it can inflict serious side effects that may force a patient to halt treatment.
About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a rare form of arthritis that primarily affects children and teens. While it is known that the disease is autoimmune in origin (meaning that the immune system begins to attack healthy tissue by mistake), what triggers the beginning of the autoimmune response is not known. Any disease considered “idiopathic” does not have an identified cause. Some risk factors for juvenile idiopathic arthritis include being female and a family history of the disease. Symptoms include limping, vague flu-like symptoms, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling of the joints, joint pain and stiffness, growth problems, and eye inflammation. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can also lead to complications such as vision problems, osteoporosis, and joint deformities and contractures. Treatment approaches often include physical therapy, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and certain chemotherapy agents that suppress the immune system. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. To learn more about juvenile idiopathic arthritis, click here.
About The Study
A team of researchers based in Turkey conducted the study which consisted of 38 child patients that were monitored while getting treated with Arava. All of these patients had some form of juvenile arthritis. 36 of these patients had previously received methotrexate but were forced to stop because of gastrointestinal side effects. From this group, six were in remission, 13 had disease activity classified as low, and 17 had moderate or high activity.
The drug was first given to the low activity patients, followed by patients experiencing relapse. Moderate to high activity patients were treated with Arava after failing to respond to three alternative biologic agents. Remarkably, after an 11 month monitoring period, 36 patients had achieved an inactive disease state.