A new experimental drug has shown promising results for treating rheumatoid arthritis after its six-month trial. The new drug is called baricitinib and it seems to be able to greatly reduce the symptoms and improve the daily lives of rheumatoid arthritis patients, especially those who didn’t show any positive results from other treatments for the autoimmune disease.
According to lead researcher Dr. Mark Genovese, professor of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine in California, there is still hope for patents who have failed existing treatment options. He states that there is another therapy that has been proven to work and he hopes it will become available soon.
The results of the research were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on March 31. Eli Lily and Co., the manufacturer of baricitinib was the one who sponsored the trial. At the time being Lily is trying to get approval of the drug from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Genovese randomly assigned for the phase 3 trial more than 500 patients at 178 centers in 24 countries to one of three groups. The first group was given 4 mg of baricitinib a day, the second group received 2 mg, and the third group was treated with a placebo during a 24 week period.
The researchers noticed that more than half the patients treated with the higher dose of baricitinib had a reduction of around 20% in the number of affected joints in the 12 week of the study.
Around 49% of the patients who received a lower dose had similar results. As for the placebo patients, researchers state that just 27% experienced this result.
Furthermore, both groups who took baricitinib had their physical function improved and their inflammation reduced. The effects of the drug remained even after 24 weeks.
As for the side effects of baricitinib, the only notable one was mild upper-respiratory infections for around 77% of the patients who took the drug. At the same time, after 12 weeks, around 2% of the patients in the high-dose group and 1% in the low-dose group developed shingles, which is a painful skin rash. This type of rash is caused by a dormant chickenpox virus.
The results showed that baricitinib also managed to raise both good and bad cholesterol.
Baricitinib is a new type of small-molecule drugs called Janus-kinase inhibitors, which can be found in pill form. According to Genovese, these type of drugs work by stopping the various inflammatory substances present in our body.
The research has discovered that although there are many drugs on the market for treating rheumatoid arthritis, long-term use of these drugs makes them less effective for some patients. This is the reason why a new drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis is more than welcome. So far, the tests have showed that baricitinib is an effective drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis.