COCKTAIL OF DRUGS CAN BEAT ARTHRITIS; New Therapy Can Stop Disease in Its Tracks for 40 per Cent of Sufferers

Daily Mail (London), June 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

COCKTAIL OF DRUGS CAN BEAT ARTHRITIS; New Therapy Can Stop Disease in Its Tracks for 40 per Cent of Sufferers


Byline: TIM UTTON

A DRUG to beat the agony of arthritis could be available within weeks.

The therapy, created by mixing two existing medicines, has halted the disease in its tracks in 40 per cent of cases.

Even those who do not enjoy full remission feel a significant improvement in symptoms, say doctors.

The beauty of the cocktail is that both components, Enbrel and methotrexate, are already licensed for use in the UK so it can be marketed immediately.

The discovery is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis, the crippling condition which affects 350,000 people in Britain. The 40 per cent success rate emerged in a two-year trial on patients with severe symptoms who have been sufferers for at least six years.

Rheumatologist Dr Andrew Gough, who took part in the research, said: 'To achieve these kinds of remission rates is fantastic news for patients.

'This was an unexpected finding because all these patients had failed on at least one drug treatment.' The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society said the results could benefit patients

across the country. Chairman Ailsa Bolsworth said: 'It is very encouraging.'

Patients in the study were given twice-weekly injections of the combined therapy.

Professor Lars Klareskog, an arthritis expert from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said: 'This treatment is much more effective than we could have hoped for. These people were really quite ill but 40 per cent are now in remission.' The results are being presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology in Berlin today.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that attacks the joints.

Immune cells that are supposed to protect the body against infection start to destroy joints instead.

Treatments include painkillers, steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In recent years a new type of drug has been developed that mops up a naturally- occurring chemical compound in the body called tumour necrosis factor (TNF), one of the main triggers for inflammation. …

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