A Simple Blood Test Could Lead to Personalized Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Related Diseases

A recent study led by Morten Aagaard Nielsen and Tue Wenzel Kragstrup, who both work at Aarhus University in Denmark, hopes to help physicians determine the best personalized treatment for arthritis patients. Currently, the prescription process for rheumatoid arthritispsoriatic arthritis, lumbar arthritis, and spondyloarthritis is described as simple “trial and error.” Clearly, change is needed. This study was published in ACR Open.

Kragstrup first had the idea for the project after witnessing the immense pain his patients were dealing with.

Currently, the most frequently utilized therapy doesn’t work for 1/3 of patients. Finding what does work for an individual can be a long, and literally painstaking process. They may be prescribed chemotherapy drugs, glucocorticoids, or other biologic therapies. Since drugs usually take between 3-4 months to become effective, patients are living months at a time with therapeutic options that are having no effect on their pain or quality of life. In fact, the damage, some of which is permanent, is just becoming worse. If prescription processes were more accurate, their lives could be improved so much quicker and outcomes would improve.

The Study

This new study utilized in vitro models to compare 9 different drugs. The researchers hypothesized the differing cell compositions within the joints of patients would impact their response to the drug.

Using cells extracted from patient’s joint fluid, they found exactly what they hypothesized. If these results can be replicated in real patients, it could revolutionize the way we prescribe medications, meaning that patients will receive effective and personalized therapies much faster.

Looking Forward

The next step is to validate these findings in a large trial with patient participants.

The ultimate hope is that a simple blood test will provide physicians the knowledge to prescribe patients the treatment option which will be best for them.

You can read more about this new study here.

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