London: A powerful new drug is giving fresh hope to thousands of people crippled by rheumatoid arthritis.
Trails showed that patients taking the pill, tofacitinib, suffered less pain and inflammation than those on today’s best treatments. It was also more effective at slowing damage to joints.
Tofacitinib targets pathways in the cells that regulate inflammation. And, unlike many treatments for rheumatoid arthritis it can be taken orally instead of by injection.
Scientists say an ongoing clinical trial of nearly 1,000 people living with the pain of the disease showed the pill is “superior” to MTX (methotrexate).
Half of those on the trial had fewer symptoms than those on MTX and displayed less joint damage.
“This looks very promising. Anything that can make a difference to people with rheumatoid arthritis is hugely important,” the Daily Express quoted Judith Brodie, chief executive of UK charity Arthritis Care, as saying.
Rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints, can strike at a young age, unlike the more common osteoarthritis, which mainly strikes older people.
It usually affects hands and feet, although any of the body’s joints can become inflamed and painful. It can also lead to crippling flare-ups.
Tofacitinib, still in the developmental stage, belongs to a new group of drugs called Janus kinases, which can be used to treat adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
The drug is being reviewed by regulators in the US, Europe and Japan. If approved, it would become the first new-generation inhibitor treatment drug on the market.
“Tofacitinib is a novel, oral small molecule Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that is being investigated as an immunomodulator and disease-modifying therapy for rheumatoid arthritis,”a spokesman for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which has developed the drug, said.
“Tofacitinib is currently under review by several regulatory agencies around the world, including in the European Medicines Agency,” he added.