Weekly Link Roundup 06/14/2012
- Ultrasound’s Role in Early Diagnosis Expected to Grow— musculoskeletal ultrasound is emerging as a technique for early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. A noninvasive, painless technique, it allows multiple joints to be assessed quickly and is less costly than an MRI. Still, few rheumatologists have adopted this ultrasound technique into their practices. Read more to find out why.
- SLE Remission Less Likely With Immunosuppressive Agents— A new study finds that some patients with SLE may be more likely than others to experience prolonged remission. Out of over 1500 patient participants, only 2% achieved a remission lasting at least five years on no medication or anti-malarial drugs. Patients achieving this prolonged remission were more likely to be caucasian, had milder disease activity, and less likely to have involvement of certain organ systems and less likely to have received steroids/immunosuppressants prior to remission.
- Lung Infections More Common Among Anti-TNF Users— Patients taking anti-tumor necrosis factor medications are four times more likely to develop mycobacterial diseases than patients not taking anti-TNF medication, and up to 14 times more likely to die from said diseases.
- Scientists Discover a Cell-Signaling Pathway that May Lead to New RA Treatment— researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York have found that a communication pathway called the Notch pathway may contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Previous studies associated a certain mutation in a gene involved in the Notch pathway with a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, but it wasn’t clear why, so researchers at HSS sought to figure out whether this molecular pathway played any role in the immune system failures that cause arthritis. The study findings suggest that drugs currently being developed for the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer’s may also treat RA. Click to learn more about Notch-inhibitors and what this study means for you.
Once again, a new study shows what we as patients already know: Rheumatoid Arthritis hurts more than physicians realize.
A new study shows that physician and patient assessments of RA disease activity show a significant disagreement seemingly driven by subjective perceptions of pain.
In most cases of discordance, patients rated their RA as being worse than their physicians did. Findings from additional analyses suggested that the discrepancy was largely due to subjective pain, and pain levels showed some association with cumulative RA-related joint damage.
Weekly Link Roundup 05/30/2012
- Could a Urine Test Predict Response to Biologic Medication? A new study suggests that urinalysis may be able to predict if Rheumatoid Arthritis patients are likely to respond to biologic medication. The study found a direct correlation between metabolites tested and Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha. RA patients who responded well to anti-TNF therapy had a distinct metabolomic profile compared with those who did not have a good response.
- Smokers Less Likely to Respond to Biologic Treatment for RA— Another reason to stop smoking! Rheumatoid Arthritis patients are significantly less likely to respond well to Anti-TNF medication. In a study of 359 patients, only 27% of smokers responded to treatment. A similar result was found in smokers being treated with Rituximab.
- Rheumatoid Vasculitis 5 Year Mortality is 60%— What does this mean? According to an analysis of 34 cases identified in a UK-based patient registry, five-year mortality following a diagnosis of RA vasculitis sits at about 60%. Read more to learn about the significance of this finding.
- Panel Recommends Tofacitinib Approval for Refractory RA— A new, oral disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) may be on the way, the first in over 10 years to be approved for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. Tofactinib is a JAK inhibitor that blocks inflammatory cytokines that play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. If approved, the DMARD would be the very first JAK (Janus kinase) inhibitor for the disease.
New Device Cuts Fibromyalgia Pain in Pilot Study— May 24, 2012
A device for transcranial magnetic stimulation deep in the brain has produced some cases of sustained pain relief when tested on five Fibromyalgia patients in a new pilot study.
The device is a four coil device with the ability to target a deeper brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate, a region of the brain linked to chronic pain. Few adverse side effects were reported, the most common being mild headache, nausea, and scalp pain.
Based on the promising results, the next step is a larger, controlled study of about 40 FMS patients. Another step towards a cure, another reason to hold onto hope!
What do you think? Would you participate in this larger study? Click the title link to learn more about the device via Rheumatology News.
Weekly Link Roundup 05/11/2012
- Association Between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Systemic Bone Loss Highlights the Importance of Omega-3 Anti-Inflamatory Diet— Has your rheumatologist ever suggested you take fish oil? It’s widely known as an anti-inflammatory supplement, but here’s just one more reason why those of you with inflammatory autoimmune diseases should consider it: a new study published by Arthritis International found that the genes that produce IL-6 (inflammatory agent that plays a key role in RA) and NF-kB (gene that produces the “switch” of inflammation”) may be moderated and inhibited by dietary intake of Omega-3.
- Scientists Pinpoint Three HLA Proteins Linked to Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis— researchers have pinpointed five amino acids in three HLA proteins that explain most of the association between major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis. In simple terms: “about 1/3 of the genetic risk for [RA] comes from MHC— and most of that comes from three separate proteins.” Read more to learn about the implications of the findings and the next step for researchers.
- GlaxoSmithKline Criticizes NHS Pharmaceutical Approval Body Over Rejecting Lupus Drug — The UK’s largest drug company has “launched a forthright attack” on the NHS’s drug rationing group, accusing it of halting innovation after it failed to approve the first new medication in over a decade to treat Lupus, leaving patients in the UK behind.
- Does the Affordable Care Act Help or Hurt Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients?— an opinion piece written by Forbes contributor Jayne Jung, the piece begs the question of whether the ACA will help or hurt us RA patients. While the ACA has the ability to increase quality care for RA patients, the American College of Rheumatology warns that the act may end up rewarding primary care physicians more than rheumatologists and how this may impact rheumatology patients.
Weekly Link Roundup 04/12/2012
Great links, news, studies and research this week!
- Gastro Woes Often Strike Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients— a new study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers reports that RA patients are at increased risk for GI problems, including ulcers, bleeding, perforations, and death related to gastrointestinal issues. The goal of the study is to highlight the need to develop new ways to prevent and treat these complications. Do you struggle with GI issues associated with your Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- New Guidelines Focus on Early RA Treatment — New guidelines issued by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recommend focusing on early treatment, TB testing, special considerations for high-risk patients, and more aggressive treatment in early disease. Read more about the reasons for the new guidelines and what each means specifically for both new and old patients.
- Microflora Have Decisive Role With Autoimmune Illnesses — April 5, 2012: What does this mean? Scientists in Berlin and Switzerland have discovered that a specific fungi activates the immune cells involved in the development of certain diseases (psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune arthritis), while other microorganisms found naturally on the skin lend an anti-inflammatory function to them. Dr. Zielinski, author of the study, explains that this finding "not only demonstrates that the composition of our microflora has a decisive role int he development of chronic illnesses, but also that the key cells causing illness can develop an anti-inflammatory ‘twin’." Read more to learn about the implications of the study’s findings and what else the researchers found.
- Virus Protects Against Lupus— April 2, 2012: Researchers have discovered that the animal model of the human Epstein Barr virus protects lupus-prone mice against the development of the disease. This came as a big surprise to scientists, whose previous work suggested that this virus might actually promote the development of autoimmunity. Researchers do not yet know how this virus inhibits Lupus, but have begun experiments to find out. Click to learn and read more.
Blog of the Week: Lupine Lady, who chronicles her journey through life with the ups and downs of Lupus. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with this wonderful woman about her journey and found that we have quite a bit in common. Absolutely worth a follow.
*As always, please send me your favourite blogs that you would like to see as BOTW.
Weekly Link Roundup 04/04/2012
- Researchers Use Novel Methods to Uncover Gene Mutations for [Rheumatoid Arthritis]— A new study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers found that variation in hundreds of locations throughout the genome might explain 20% of Rheumatoid Arthritis risk, after excluding all known genetic risk factors.
- People With Multiple Chronic Illnesses Have Trouble Coordinating Care— A new study finds that those who suffer from multiple chronic illness, especially young individuals, report difficulty with care coordination.
- Method for Clearing Cellular Debris Provides New Targets for Lupus Treatment— a study released in February reports that an enzyme known to help keep a woman’s immune system from attacking a fetus also aids in blocking development autoimmune diseases that target healthy tissues, such as DNA or joints.
- Sustained Rheumatoid Arthritis Remission Uncommon in Clinical Practice — A study that reports what a large majority of RA patients already know: remission is hard to come by and difficult to define. Of the 871 patients surveyed and 394 of which who were in remission, less than 50 of subjects remained in remission one year later, and the median remission “survival time” was only one year.
Blog of the Week: MagicFaux. Not a chronic illness/autoimmune-related blog, but with my recent surge of creativity I figured I would share with you one of my favourite art tumblrs.
It’s been a busy month for all things rheumatic/autoimmune diseases.
For those that haven’t heard, March is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, started by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Foundation. Click on the link to find an Autoimmune Disease Awareness walk near you or get involved.
With the spotlight on autoimmunity this month, celebrity Nick Cannon has generated some much needed awareness and attention for Lupus and despite his very recent diagnosis, is already working with the Lupus Foundation of America. You can read about his ordeal here or follow his or the LFA’s twitter for quick updates.
A new breakthrough medication that “blindfolds” white blood cells from causing damage seems to be promising for Rheumatoid Arthritis/Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease patients.
Though most RA/D patients already know the serious increased risk of cardiovascular disease and complications that come with their autoimmune disease, a new study and set of statistics are out: RA/D patientshave a 40% increased risk of atrial fibrillation and a 30% increased risk of stroke. Another reminder of why it is imperative for those of us with autoimmune arthritis to keep our hearts healthy.
Also new on the RA/D front, Airway Abnormalities May Represent Preclinical Rheumatoid Arthritis. Author Bruce Jancin of Rheumatology News reports “increasing evidence [suggesting] that RA is smoldering in the lungs during this preclinical stage, which can last a decade or more.” The article goes on to discuss the role of Methotrexate as a preventative agent and the significance of the findings.
News Rheum Action: Looking for some easy ways to get involved?
Consider taking the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation’s RA/D Survey, which will help the new organization better help patients in the community.
Registration for the very first World Autoimmune Arthritis Day has begun. WAAD will be held on May 20th, 2012 as an international online awareness event. Registering and participating in the event allows you vendor discounts, a chance to submit your story, and much more. Get involved!