According to a story from Juvenile Arthritis News, the results of a recent phase 3 clinical trial indicate that the drug tofacitinib (marketed as Xeljanz) can be an effective treatment for symptom flare-ups in patients with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The findings from this study were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Professionals.
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, 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.
Xeljanz is designed as an inhibitor of the janus-activated kinase (JAK) enzyme, which is known to play a role in the cascade of inflammation triggering signals. The drug has already been cleared for use in a variety of related rare diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These clinical trial represent the first attempt at testing the therapy in child patients.
The trial included a total of 225 patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, including 184 who had the more serious polyarticular variant. The patients received the drug twice per day for a period of 18 weeks. The study found that patients who used the drug saw a reduced risk of symptom flares and only 29.2 percent experienced flares during the study. Meanwhile, 52.9 percent of the placebo group experienced flares. Xeljanz also reduced overall signs and symptoms and improved physical function.
In addition, the safety profile appeared no different than the profile of adults, with very few patients experiencing serious side effects. With these encouraging findings, it appears that Xeljanz could one day be approved for juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Check out the original study here.