- Drug blocks immune system messenger causing inflamed joints
- More than a third of juvenile arthritis sufferers get early joint replacement
17:00 EST, 7 December 2013
17:11 EST, 7 December 2013
Thousands of children with theÂ most severe type of juvenile arthritis can now benefit from a newly licensed drug that eases symptoms.
Trial data shows that after 40 weeks of treatment with the drug RoActemra (tocilizumab), two-thirds of those aged between two and 16 with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA) saw a 70 per cent improvement in symptoms, compared with those taking a placebo.
Currently incurable, pJIA is aÂ crippling inflammatory joint condition that affects about 2,300 British children. More than a third of them will need early joint replacement.
Able to play: The new drug works by blocking an immune system messenger called IL-6, which causes fever and inflammation in the joints
The disease can come on suddenly and affects five or more joints, causing stiffness, swelling, pain and limited movement. Some children end up in wheelchairs.
Tocilizumab, a drug previouslyÂ used to treat adult rheumatoid arthritis, works by blocking an immune system messenger called IL-6, which causes fever and inflammation in the jointsÂ and organs.
It was licensed for pJIA following publication of data from aÂ trial demonstrating that children treated with the drug experienced meaningful improvements in the signs andÂ symptoms of pJIA.
Crippling: Thousands of children with juvenile arthritis go on to have early joint replacement
Dr Athimalaipet Ramanan, lead consultant in paediatric rheumatologyÂ at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, says: â€˜The fact that the drug will now be readily available for patients across the UK gives hope to hundreds of children that doing the things that other kids do in their day- to-day lives may soon be a reality.â€™
Judi Rhys, chief executive of the Arthritis Care charity, said: â€˜This is fantastic news for children as it offers them hope for the future.â€™
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