Rheumatoid arthritis: the first results of preventive treatment are conclusive

Rheumatoid arthritis: the first results of preventive treatment are conclusive

Already prescribed for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, the active ingredient abatacept is being studied today as a “preventative” treatment to simply prevent the progression of the disease. And a latest study shows very encouraging results, which could change the lives of millions of people.

Are we on the cusp of a treatment that prevents rheumatoid arthritis? This chronic inflammation of the joints which handicaps 18 million people worldwide and has no curative treatment could possibly be slowed down or even stopped thanks to a treatment currently being tested. In any case, this is what the first results published in The Lancet on February 13.

Reduce the risk of developing the disease by 80%?

According to the study, the treatment, called by default “vaccine” (but which is not technically one) is an active ingredient called abatacept, injected weekly into the stomach or thigh, which would thus reduce 80% risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. In their clinical trial, the researchers focused on the cases of 213 patients at early risk of rheumatoid arthritis from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. 110 of them received the drug abatacept, and the rest assigned to a placebo group.

After twelve months of treatment:

  • 92.8% of the abatacept group did not develop the disease, compared to 69.2% in the second sample;
  • The people who received the treatment all experienced an improvement in their quality of life, with much less joint pain.

The active ingredient, already prescribed for people suffering from the disease, would therefore prove effective in slowing the progression of the pathology in people presenting the first symptoms, or even stopping it.

For the first time it is possible to act before the appearance of inflammation

Consulted on the subject, Dr Laurent Grange, rheumatologist and member of our TipsForWomens expert committee, expressed his interest in this trial which aims to use abatacept differently, upstream. “Abatacept is not a revolution, it is a biomedicine that has been used for years in background treatment on people already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, which will block a type of white blood cell, the lymphocytes Tto block disease, reduce pain, inflammation and improve quality of life.

The novelty lies above all in the moment when the researchers decided to use this treatment. “Until now, we had no medication that “prevented” the onset of the disease and symptoms of joint destruction, although we know how to detect signs of pre-RA up to 15 years before the inflammation.

The trial thus demonstrates that it would be possible to act and prevent patients from reaching the inflammatory and disabling stage.

“Obviously if we take this medication before RA begins, we will significantly reduce the onset of the disease. On the other hand, there is a downside: if we thought we could prevent the disease, the trial shows that “this resumes as soon as treatment is stopped. This treatment should therefore be considered for life.”

If it is not perfect, the treatment could well change the lives of millions of people and prolong an appreciable quality of life. While waiting for a vaccine to be discovered? Research continues on this front as well.