June 22, 2009

New rheumatoid arthritis drug is promising

A French study shows the drug masitinib, being developed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, appears to be well tolerated and effective, researchers say.

The clinical trial, led by Olivier Hermine of Necker Hospital in Paris, included 43 patients with arthritis resistant to current treatments.

In choosing which interventions to use for the management of rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to recognize that treatment should aim to keep the disease in remission and not be used intermittently to manage exacerbations, said Hermine. We are encouraged from this study that masitinib not only appears to be effective, but that within the first three months of treatment the worst of its side effects were over, possibly making it suitable for long-term treatment regimens

The researcher said the study also helps establish the critical role of mast cells in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and demonstrate their viability as a therapeutic target.

The clinical trial is reported in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.