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1.  Effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab after 4 and 24 weeks in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: the first phase IIIb real-life study (TAMARA) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;70(5):755-759.
Objectives
To confirm the effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a setting close to real-life medical care in Germany.
Methods
A multicentre open-label phase IIIb study was undertaken. Patients with active RA with a 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) >3.2 despite previous disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were treated with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving LDAS ≤3.2 at week 24; secondary end points included American College of Rheumatology (ACR), European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) or Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) responses and decrease in acute phase. Analyses in subgroups such as rheumatoid factor (RF)-positive versus RF-negative patients and patients with an inadequate response to treatment with DMARDs (DMARD-IR) versus those with an inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists (TNF antagonist-IR) were performed. Safety was assessed by adverse event documentation.
Results
286 patients were treated and 83.6% completed the study. 41.6% had previously been treated with TNF antagonists. 57% of the intention-to-treat patients achieved the primary end point of LDAS, 47.6% achieved DAS remission <2.6 and a EULAR ‘good response’ was achieved by 54.9%; ACR50/70 response rates at week 24 were 50.7% and 33.9%, respectively. The mean±SD decrease in CDAI from baseline to week 24 was 71±29%. C reactive protein levels normalised rapidly within 1 week. Major improvements in fatigue, pain and morning stiffness were observed in the first 4 weeks and further improved until week 24. DAS28, EULAR and ACR responses at week 24 did not differ between RF-positive and RF-negative patients. TNF antagonist-naive patients responded better than patients who had previously failed on TNF antagonists. The safety profile of tocilizumab was comparable to that previously observed in the phase III trial programme. Serious infections were observed in 3.1% of patients.
Conclusions
Tocilizumab is highly effective in a setting close to real-life medical care with a rapid and sustained improvement in signs and symptoms of RA. A manageable safety profile was seen over the 24-week study period.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.139725
PMCID: PMC3070275  PMID: 21187298
2.  Adalimumab alone and in combination with disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in clinical practice: the Research in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis (ReAct) trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):732-739.
Objective
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Results
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Conclusions
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.066761
PMCID: PMC1954645  PMID: 17329305
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
4.  Inflammation assessment in patients with arthritis using a novel in vivo fluorescence optical imaging technology 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(4):504-510.
Background
Indocyanine green (ICG)-enhanced fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is an established technology for imaging of inflammation in animal models. In experimental models of arthritis, FOI findings corresponded to histologically proven synovitis. This is the first comparative study of FOI with other imaging modalities in humans with arthritis.
Methods
252 FOI examinations (Xiralite system, mivenion GmbH, Berlin, Germany; ICG bolus of 0.1 mg/kg/body weight, sequence of 360 images, one image per second) were compared with clinical examination (CE), ultrasonography (US) and MRI of patients with arthritis of the hands.
Results
In an FOI sequence, three phases could be distinguished (P1–P3). With MRI as reference, FOI had a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 54%, while the specificity of phase 1 was 94%. FOI had agreement rates up to 88% versus CE, 64% versus greyscale US, 88% versus power Doppler US and 83% versus MRI, depending on the compared phase and parameter. FOI showed a higher rate of positive results compared to CE, US and MRI. In individual patients, FOI correlated significantly (p<0.05) with disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28, r=0.41), US (r=0.40) and RAMRIS (Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Score) (r=0.56). FOI was normal in 97.8% of joints of controls.
Conclusion
ICG-enhanced FOI is a new technology offering sensitive imaging detection of inflammatory changes in subjects with arthritis. FOI was more sensitive than CE and had good agreement with CE, US in power Doppler mode and MRI, while showing more positive results than these. An adequate interpretation of an FOI sequence requires a separate evaluation of all phases. For the detection of synovitis and tenosynovitis, FOI appears to be as informative as 1.5 T MRI and US.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2010-148288
PMCID: PMC3298665  PMID: 22388997
5.  Efficacy and safety of mavrilimumab in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(9):1445-1452.
Objectives
Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the alpha subunit of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor, was evaluated in a phase 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate efficacy and safety in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Subcutaneous mavrilimumab (10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) or placebo was administered every other week for 12 weeks in subjects on stable background methotrexate therapy. The primary endpoint was the proportion of subjects achieving a ≥1.2 decrease from baseline in Disease Activity Score (DAS28-CRP) at week 12.
Results
55.7% of mavrilimumab-treated subjects met the primary endpoint versus 34.7% placebo (p=0.003) at week 12; for the 10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg groups, responses were 41.0% (p=0.543), 61.0% (p=0.011), 53.8% (p=0.071), and 66.7% (p=0.001) respectively. Response rate differences from placebo were observed at week 2 and increased throughout the treatment period. The 100 mg dose demonstrated a significant effect versus placebo on DAS28-CRP<2.6 (23.1% vs 6.7%, p=0.016), all categories of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria (ACR20: 69.2% vs 40.0%, p=0.005; ACR50: 30.8% vs 12.0%, p=0.021; ACR70: 17.9% vs 4.0%, p=0.030), and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (−0.48 vs −0.25, p=0.005). A biomarker-based disease activity score showed a dose-dependent decrease at week 12, indicating suppression of disease-related biological pathways. Adverse events were generally mild or moderate in intensity. No significant hypersensitivity reactions, serious or opportunistic infections, or changes in pulmonary parameters were observed.
Conclusions
Mavrilimumab induced rapid clinically significant responses in RA subjects, suggesting that inhibiting the mononuclear phagocyte pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach for RA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202450
PMCID: PMC3756523  PMID: 23234647
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; Disease Activity
6.  A randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study of the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous tocilizumab versus intravenous tocilizumab in combination with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (SUMMACTA study) 
Objectives
This study compared the efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) versus intravenous (IV) formulations of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD).
Methods
Patients (n=1262) were randomly assigned to receive tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly+placebo-IV every 4 weeks or tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks+placebo-SC weekly in combination with traditional DMARD. The primary outcome was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of tocilizumab-SC to tocilizumab-IV with regard to the proportion of patients in each group achieving an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response at week 24 using a 12% non-inferiority margin (NIM). Secondary outcomes were disease activity score using 28 joints (DAS28), ACR responses, health assessment questionnaire scores and safety assessments.
Results
At week 24, 69.4% (95% CI 65.5 to 73.2) of tocilizumab-SC-treated patients versus 73.4% (95% CI 69.6 to 77.1) of tocilizumab-IV-treated patients achieved an ACR20 response (weighted difference between groups −4.0%, 95% CI −9.2 to 1.2); the 12% NIM was met. ACR50/70 responses, DAS28 and physical function improvements were comparable between the tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV groups. The safety profiles of tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV were similar, and the most common adverse event was infection. Injection-site reactions (ISR) occurred more frequently in the tocilizumab-SC group than in the tocilizumab-IV (placebo-SC) group. No anaphylaxis was reported over the 24 weeks.
Conclusions
Tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly demonstrated comparable efficacy to tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg. The safety profile of tocilizumab-SC is consistent with the known and well-established safety profile of tocilizumab-IV, with the exception of a higher incidence of ISR, which were more common with tocilizumab-SC administration.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203523
PMCID: PMC3888614  PMID: 23904473
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Disease Activity
7.  Certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate provides broad relief from the burden of rheumatoid arthritis: analysis of patient-reported outcomes from the RAPID 2 trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(6):996-1002.
Objective
To assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to interpret these results using number needed to treat (NNT), and associations between PRO responses and longer term outcomes.
Methods
A total of 619 patients with active RA were randomised to CZP 200 or 400 mg, or placebo plus methotrexate (MTX). PROs assessed included pain, patient's global assessment of disease activity (PtGA), physical function, fatigue and health-related quality of life. Treatment impact on PROs, NNT to achieve simultaneous improvements in multiple PROs and correlations between PROs were calculated. Times to onset of improvements greater than or equal to minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) in pain as a determinant of clinical outcomes at week 24 were compared between week 6 and 12 responders, and in patients with improvements in pain ≥MCID at week 12 (week 12 responders/non-responders).
Results
CZP 200 and 400 mg plus MTX were associated with rapid, clinically meaningful improvements in all PROs. The NNT for subjects to report changes ≥MCID in up to five PROs was two to three, and five for all six PROs (pain, PtGA, physical function, fatigue and short-form 36-item Physical and Mental Component Summary Scores). More patients with improvements ≥MCID in pain at week 6 than those at week 12 had lower disease activity at week 24. Week 12 pain responders had better clinical outcomes at week 24 than non-responders.
Conclusions
The data demonstrate that CZP provides broad relief from the burden of RA.
Trial registration number
NCT00160602.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.143586
PMCID: PMC3086050  PMID: 21415050
8.  Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting GM-CSF receptor-α, in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase I, first-in-human study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(9):1542-1549.
Objective
To evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor-α, in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalating phase I study in subjects with RA who received stable methotrexate treatment for ≥3 months before enrolment. Subjects received single intravenous escalating doses of mavrilimumab (0.01–10.0 mg/kg) or placebo.
Results
32 subjects were enrolled in this study (1 unblinded subject at 0.01 mg/kg and another at 0.03 mg/kg were followed by five sequential double-blinded cohorts, n=6 each, treated with 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 10.0 mg/kg, respectively). Adverse events were mild or moderate and were reported with similar frequency across all treatment cohorts. One subject (10.0 mg/kg) experienced moderate face and neck urticaria during infusion that resolved with symptomatic treatment. Systemic clearance of mavrilimumab approached that of endogenous IgG at doses >1.0 mg/kg; pharmacodynamic activity was confirmed in the 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg cohorts by suppression of suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 mRNA transcripts. In exploratory analyses, reductions of acute phase reactants were observed in subjects with elevated C-reactive protein (>5 mg/l) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (≥20.0 mm/h) at baseline. No significant change in Disease Activity Score 28-joint assessment (DAS28) was seen in any of the cohorts. In mavrilimumab-treated subjects (n=15) with baseline DAS28 >3.2, mean disease activity (DAS28) was significantly reduced at 4 weeks.
Conclusion
In this first-in-human study, mavrilimumab showed preliminary evidence of pharmacodynamic activity. Importantly, the safety and pharmacokinetic profiles of mavrilimumab support further clinical studies in RA.
Trial registration number: NCT00771420.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.146225
PMCID: PMC3147227  PMID: 21613310
9.  Performance of the new 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria with tocilizumab using the phase IIIb study TAMARA as an example and their comparison with traditional remission criteria 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(11):1986-1990.
Background
Remission is the established goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. Although originally defined by a disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) <2.6, more stringent criteria may imply the absence of disease activity. The 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria provide the newest and most stringent definition of remission.
Objectives
To evaluate post hoc the remission by ACR/EULAR criteria and compare the criteria with the conventional DAS28 in TAMARA, an open-label phase IIIb tocilizumab (TCZ) trial including patients with active RA receiving inadequate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor treatment.
Results
286 patients were enrolled, 99.7% of patients were receiving a conventional DMARD and 41.6% had TNFα inhibitor pretreatment. Baseline mean DAS28 of 6.0 ± 1.0 fell to 2.6 ± 1.5 at week 24. DAS28 <2.6 was achieved by 47.6% at week 24. Remission rates with the new ACR/EULAR Boolean-based criteria for clinical studies were 15.0% after 12 weeks and 20.3% after 24 weeks. Of note, 13.5% of patients with previous TNFα blocker inadequate response still achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria after 24 weeks. Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were 24.1% and 25.2%, respectively.
Conclusions
Under the definition of the new stringent 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria, patients with active RA despite DMARD treatment and even after inadequate response to TNFα inhibitors, receiving TCZ showed significant rates of remission. Similar remission rates were achieved, when clinical practice criteria, not inclusive of acute phase reactants, were used.
doi:10.1136/ard.2011.152678
PMCID: PMC3184242  PMID: 21875873
10.  EULAR recommendations for terminology and research in individuals at risk of rheumatoid arthritis: report from the Study Group for Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(5):638-641.
The Study Group for Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis was established by the EULAR Standing Committee on Investigative Rheumatology to facilitate research into the preclinical and earliest clinically apparent phases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This report describes the recommendation for terminology to be used to define specific subgroups during different phases of disease, and defines the priorities for research in this area. Terminology was discussed by way of a three-stage structured process: A provisional list of descriptors for each of the possible phases preceding the diagnosis of RA were circulated to members of the study group for review and feedback. Anonymised comments from the members on this list were fed back to participants before a 2-day meeting. 18 participants met to discuss these data, agree terminologies and prioritise important research questions. The study group recommended that, in prospective studies, individuals without RA are described as having: genetic risk factors for RA; environmental risk factors for RA; systemic autoimmunity associated with RA; symptoms without clinical arthritis; unclassified arthritis; which may be used in a combinatorial manner. It was recommended that the prefix ‘pre-RA with:’ could be used before any/any combination of the five points above but only to describe retrospectively a phase that an individual had progressed through once it was known that they have developed RA. An approach to dating disease onset was recommended. In addition, important areas for research were proposed, including research of other tissues in which an adaptive immune response may be initiated, and the identification of additional risk factors and biomarkers for the development of RA, its progression and the development of extra-articular features. These recommendations provide guidance on approaches to describe phases before the development of RA that will facilitate communication between researchers and comparisons between studies. A number of research questions have been defined, requiring new cohorts to be established and new techniques to be developed to image and collect material from different sites.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-200990
PMCID: PMC3329228  PMID: 22387728
11.  Consensus statement on blocking the effects of interleukin-6 and in particular by interleukin-6 receptor inhibition in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):482-492.
Background
Since approval of tocilizumab (TCZ) for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), interleukin 6 (IL-6) pathway inhibition was evaluated in trials of TCZ and other agents targeting the IL-6 receptor and ligand in various RA populations and other inflammatory diseases. This consensus document informs on interference with the IL-6 pathway based on evidence and expert opinion.
Methods
Preparation of this document involved international experts in RA treatment and RA patients. A systematic literature search was performed that focused on TCZ and other IL6-pathway inhibitors in RA and other diseases. Subsequently, incorporating available published evidence and expert opinion, the steering committee and a broader expert committee (both including RA patients) formulated the current consensus statement.
Results
The consensus statement covers use of TCZ as combination- or monotherapy in various RA populations and includes clinical, functional and structural aspects. The statement also addresses the second approved indication in Europe JIA and non-approved indications. Also early phase trials involving additional agents that target the IL-6 receptor or IL-6 were evaluated. Safety concerns, including haematological, hepatic and metabolic issues as well as infections, are addressed likewise.
Conclusions
The consensus statement identifies points to consider when using TCZ, regarding indications, contraindications, screening, dose, comedication, response evaluation and safety. The document is aimed at supporting clinicians and informing patients, administrators and payers on opportunities and limitations of IL-6 pathway inhibition.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202469
PMCID: PMC3595138  PMID: 23172750
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment
12.  Blocking the effects of interleukin-6 in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory rheumatic diseases: systematic literature review and meta-analysis informing a consensus statement 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):583-589.
Background
Suppression of the immunoinflammatory cascade by targeting interleukin 6 (IL-6) mediated effects constitutes a therapeutic option for chronic inflammatory diseases. Tocilizumab is the only IL-6 inhibitor (IL-6i) licensed for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), but also other agents targeting either IL-6 or its receptor are investigated in various indications.
Objective
To review published evidence on safety and efficacy of IL-6i in inflammatory diseases.
Methods
We performed systematic literature searches in Medline and Cochrane, screened EULAR and American College of Rheumatology meeting-abstracts, and accessed http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Results
Comprehensive evidence supports the efficacy of tocilizumab in RA in DMARD-naïve patients, and after DMARD- and TNFi-failure. Randomised comparisons demonstrate superiority of tocilizumab in JIA, but not ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Other indications are currently investigated. Additional IL-6i show similar efficacy; safety generally appears acceptable.
Conclusions
IL-6i is effective and safe in RA and JIA, but not in AS. Preliminary results in other indications need substantiation.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202470
PMCID: PMC3595140  PMID: 23144446
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; Treatment; DMARDs (biologic)
13.  Adalimumab: long-term safety in 23 458 patients from global clinical trials in rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's disease 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):517-524.
Background
As long-term treatment with antitumour necrosis factor (TNF) drugs becomes accepted practice, the risk assessment requires an understanding of anti-TNF long-term safety. Registry safety data in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are available, but these patients may not be monitored as closely as patients in a clinical trial. Cross-indication safety reviews of available anti-TNF agents are limited.
Objective
To analyse the long-term safety of adalimumab treatment.
Methods
This analysis included 23 458 patients exposed to adalimumab in 71 global clinical trials in RA, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis (Ps) and Crohn's disease (CD). Events per 100 patient-years were calculated using events reported after the first dose through 70 days after the last dose. Standardised incidence rates for malignancies were calculated using a National Cancer Institute database. Standardised death rates were calculated using WHO data.
Results
The most frequently reported serious adverse events across indications were infections with greatest incidence in RA and CD trials. Overall malignancy rates for adalimumab-treated patients were as expected for the general population; the incidence of lymphoma was increased in patients with RA, but within the range expected in RA without anti-TNF therapy; non-melanoma skin cancer incidence was raised in RA, Ps and CD. In all indications, death rates were lower than, or equivalent to, those expected in the general population.
Conclusions
Analysis of adverse events of interest through nearly 12 years of adalimumab exposure in clinical trials across indications demonstrated individual differences in rates by disease populations, no new safety signals and a safety profile consistent with known information about the anti-TNF class.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201244
PMCID: PMC3595151  PMID: 22562972
14.  The US7 score is sensitive to change in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 12 months of therapy 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(7):1163-1169.
Purpose
To determine the sensitivity to change of the US7 score among RA patients under various therapies and to analyze the effect of each therapeutic option over 1 year. To estimate predictors for development of destructive bone changes.
Methods
Musculoskeletal ultrasound (US7 score), DAS28, CRP and ESR were performed in 432 RA patients at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months. The cohort was divided into four sub-groups: first-line DMARDs (Group 1; 27.3%), therapy switch: DMARDs to second DMARDs (Group 2; 25.0%), first-line biologic after DMARDs therapy (Group 3; 35.4%) and therapy change from biologic to second biologic (Group 4; 12.3%).
Results
The US7 synovitis and tenosynovitis sum scores in grey-scale (GSUS) and power Doppler ultrasound (PDUS) as well as ESR, CRP decreased significantly (p<0.05) after 12 months in group 1 to 3. Group 1+2 also illustrated a significant change of DAS28 after 1 year (p<0.001). Only in Group 4, the US7 erosion sum score decreased significantly from 4.3 to 3.6 (p=0.008) after 1 year. Predictors capable of forecasting US erosions after one year were: higher score of US7 synovitis (p<0.001), of US7 erosions in GSUS (p<0.001), as well as of DAS28 (p<0.001) at baseline.
Conclusions
The comparable developments of the US7 score with clinical and laboratory data illustrates its potential to reflect therapeutic response. Therefore, the novel US7 score is sensitive to change. Patients who switched from one biologic to another exhibited a significant decline in erosions after 12 months, while the erosions scores in the other groups were stable.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201397
PMCID: PMC3686255  PMID: 22956596
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Ultrasonography; Synovitis; DAS28; TNF-alpha
15.  Evaluating drug-free remission with abatacept in early rheumatoid arthritis: results from the phase 3b, multicentre, randomised, active-controlled AVERT study of 24 months, with a 12-month, double-blind treatment period 
Objectives
To evaluate clinical remission with subcutaneous abatacept plus methotrexate (MTX) and abatacept monotherapy at 12 months in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and maintenance of remission following the rapid withdrawal of all RA treatment.
Methods
In the Assessing Very Early Rheumatoid arthritis Treatment phase 3b trial, patients with early active RA were randomised to double-blind, weekly, subcutaneous abatacept 125 mg plus MTX, abatacept 125 mg monotherapy, or MTX for 12 months. Patients with low disease activity (Disease Activity Score (DAS)28 (C reactive protein (CRP)) <3.2) at month 12 entered a 12-month period of withdrawal of all RA therapy. The coprimary endpoints were the proportion of patients with DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 at month 12 and both months 12 and 18, for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX.
Results
Patients had <2 years of RA symptoms, DAS28 (CRP) ≥3.2, anticitrullinated peptide-2 antibody positivity and 95.2% were rheumatoid factor positive. For abatacept plus MTX versus MTX, DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 was achieved in 60.9% versus 45.2% (p=0.010) at 12 months, and following treatment withdrawal, in 14.8% versus 7.8% (p=0.045) at both 12 and 18 months. DAS28 (CRP) <2.6 was achieved for abatacept monotherapy in 42.5% (month 12) and 12.4% (both months 12 and 18). Both abatacept arms had a safety profile comparable with MTX alone.
Conclusions
Abatacept plus MTX demonstrated robust efficacy compared with MTX alone in early RA, with a good safety profile. The achievement of sustained remission following withdrawal of all RA therapy suggests an effect of abatacept's mechanism on autoimmune processes.
Trial registration number
NCT01142726.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-206106
PMCID: PMC4283672  PMID: 25367713
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; DMARDs (biological); Disease Activity

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