Washington: A study has claimed that the identification of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) before it develops could significantly alter the course of the ailment. The study was published in the journal 'Clinical Therapeutics'.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that leads to significant health issues as well as high treatment costs. Many studies are already underway to learn how to prevent RA, however, prevention of autoimmune diseases is still new territory and there is a lot to discuss and learn.
"Most autoimmune diseases are only identified once an individual gets 'sick.' For example, with RA, once someone has painful, swollen joints," said Dr Tsang Tommy Cheung, one of the guest editors. "Blood-based tests can now identify individuals who are at risk before they feel sick, opening a whole new world of screening and possible prevention.
Treating RA very early may allow for cheaper, safer therapies to work because once full-blown RA has developed, typically very powerful medications are needed to control disease," Dr Cheung added.
The study identified several important challenges such as getting society to invest in prevention, finding prevention approaches that work, finding individuals who are at-risk for future RA through simple methods, getting the research and medical community to agree on the right terminology for RA and patient preference is also a major challenge.
"RA science is in a fortunate situation compared to many other inflammatory diseases where it is rarely known when and where disease-specific immunity may be triggered and how it may gradually evolve towards targeting of the end organ," commented Lars Klareskog of Karolinska University Hospital.
"Research and solutions proposed in this issue may also serve as a demonstration example for many other chronic immune-mediated diseases," added Klareskog. Editor-in-Chief Richard Shader commented, "The efforts of this team of experts to raise awareness of RA and to explore methods for early detection and intervention should catalyse the medical and scientific communities to increase their efforts to find better ways to treat and perhaps even prevent RA and its complications."
"Treating RA very early may allow for cheaper, safer therapies to work because once full-blown RA has developed, typically very powerful medications are needed to control the disease. This is like stopping a fire when it is still at the stage of a candle - pretty easy. However, stopping a fire once a full-blown forest fire has developed is very hard!" concluded the guest editors.