Clinical trials can be beneficial in many ways. For one, these trials show researchers whether a treatment’s impact is durable and sustained. Determining this often requires some follow-up period. According to Rheumatology Advisors, data from the latter half of the Phase 3 GiACTA clinical trial highlighted the safety and efficacy of tocilizumab for patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA). In fact, the data shows that a large portion of patients who used tocilizumab weekly for 12 months (1 year) in addition to tapering prednisone for six months experienced clinical remission – and remained in remission for up to 2 years following treatment. Check out the full study findings in The Lancet Rheumatology.
During the first half of the clinical trial, researchers determined the efficacy of tocilizumab in conjunction with a glucocorticoid taper. In the latter half of the trial, 215 patients enrolled. These patients, in the first portion, had either received 1 year of tocilizumab treatment or a placebo. Patients were split into four groups:
- One group (44 patients) had 1 year of a placebo with 26 weeks of prednisone tapering.
- The second group (46 patients) received 1 year of both a placebo and a prednisone taper.
- Third, 85 patients had 1 year of tocilizumab treatment alongside 26 weeks of prednisone tapering.
- Finally, the fourth group (40 patients) had 26 weeks of both prednisone tapering and tocilizumab.
Altogether, researchers determined that patients treated with 1 year of tocilizumab weekly and six months of prednisone tapering were most likely to achieve remission. In fact, 73% of those patients achieved clinical remission within 1 year, with 42% maintaining remission through two years.
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA)
Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is one of the most common forms of vasculitis in adults. What does that mean? Basically, vasculitis is a condition which causes blood vessel inflammation. In giant cell arteritis, the inflammation occurs mainly in the scalp and head, especially in arteries around the temples. For this reason, GCA may sometimes be referred to as temporal arteritis. Only adults are affected by GCA. In many cases, patients are older than 50 years old. Females and Caucasians are also more likely to experience GCA. Common symptoms include:
- Unintended weight loss
- A persistent headache
- Jaw pain, especially while chewing
- Appetite loss
- Flu-like symptoms
- Throat, tongue, or facial pain
- Double or blurred vision
With treatment, GCA is manageable. However, without treatment, patients may lose their vision entirely.