Rheumatoid Arthritis

A Precision Medicine Approach for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million Americans and approximately 1% of the worldwide population. Patients suffer from a host of symptoms, including debilitating joint pain and swelling, fatigue, and even depression. [1]  

Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be caused by certain genetic factors and possibly some environmental factors, such as viruses, bacteria, or exposure to certain toxic substances. There is currently no known cure,  but many patients undergo treatment to relieve their symptoms or stop further progression of the disease. [2]

Currently, there are several therapies available, but it isn’t uncommon for patients to go through 12 weeks of therapy using a particular drug and notice no appreciable difference in symptoms. According to Harris Perlman, Chief of Rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, this is what’s wrong with how doctors currently prescribe medications: “we waste $2.5 billion a year in ineffective therapy.” [3]

Now, researchers at Northwestern, PierianDx customer, are taking a more precise approach, borrowing from their colleagues in oncology. By taking a biopsy of tissue from impacted joints, they are performing genetic testing on the tissue and prescribing treatments based on a patient’s genetic profile. Perlman hopes that this precision treatment will become the standard of care for all patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Reference List

[1] RheumatoidArthritis.org. (2018). Let’s Dig Into Everything about RA. [online] Available at: https://www.rheumatoidarthritis.org/ra/ [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].

[2] Arthritis.org. (2018). Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment. [online] Available at: https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/treatment.php [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].

[3] News-Medical.net. (2018). Northwestern scientists bring precision medicine to rheumatoid arthritis. [online] Available at: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20180319/Northwestern-scientists-bring-precision-medicine-to-rheumatoid-arthritis.aspx [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].