[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 23-Jun-2010
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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central

Early and aggressive arthritis treatment recommended

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) should be used early and aggressively at the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The results of an 11-year trial, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, demonstrate that active treatment from the very beginning pays off, even in the long run.

Dr Vappu Rantalaiho, from Tampere University Hospital, Finland, worked with a team of researchers to study radiologic progression in 195 patients with RA. She said, "Early therapy with combinations of conventional DMARDs has been shown to retard the radiologic progression of RA for a period of up to 5 years, but until now the effects of initial aggressive DMARD therapy on radiologic prognosis after that were unknown. We've shown that even after 11 years, early and aggressive therapy achieves excellent results for most patients".

For this study, 97 patients were initially randomized to receive a combination of DMARDs (starting with methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine with prednisolone; FIN-RACo strategy) and 98 received a single DMARD (initially sulfasalazine with or without prednisolone; SINGLE strategy). After 2 years, the treatment of RA was unrestricted for both groups. Patients treated initially with the FIN-RACo strategy were found to have less radiographic damage in small joints, even in the long term, than those treated initially with DMARD monotherapy. According to Rantalaiho, "Probably the most important precondition to our excellent results in most patients was the active treatment policy aiming at remission at all time points. Our results emphasize the importance of early remission for long term outcome. In the present study, the patients who were in strict remission at 1 year had significantly less radiologic progression throughout the follow-up than the patients who were not".

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Notes to Editors

1. Early combination disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy and tight disease control improve long-term radiologic outcome in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: the 11-year results of the Finnish Rheumatoid Arthritis Combination Therapy trial
Vappu Rantalaiho, Markku Korpela, Leena Laasonen, Hannu Kautiainen, Salme Järvenpää, Pekka Hannonen, Marjatta Leirisalo-Repo, Harri Blåfield, Kari Puolakka, Anna Karjalainen, Timo Möttönen and the FIN-RACo Trial Group
Arthritis Research & Therapy (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://arthritis-research.com/imedia/2100671131790641_article.pdf?random=341654

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://arthritis-research.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Arthritis Research & Therapy is an international, peer-reviewed online and print journal, publishing original research, reviews, commentaries and reports. The major focus of the journal is in mechanisms of, and translational laboratory and clinical research into localised and systemic immune-inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Phase I, II and III clinical trials are also published.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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