Success in Treatment of Juvenile Arthritis -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Virginia Pascual, M.D., and Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., from the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas (BIIR), report on the successful treatment of children with systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SoJIA). "Through this research, we found that we could not only control the disease, but also allow these children to grow and carry out normal lives," said Pascual.

In collaboration with researchers from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, the BIIR team identified children with this form of juvenile arthritis who had not responded to other treatment regimens. They discovered that white blood cells from these SoJIA patients expressed higher levels of certain immune system genes than white blood cells from healthy individuals. They also found that blood serum from the SoJIA patients caused healthy white blood cells to start overexpressing these genes and to secrete higher levels of interleukin-1b. The researchers observed that higher IL-1b secretion also occurred in SoJIA patients.

Nine SoJIA patients received a drug, called Anakinra, which inactivated IL-1. Anakinra is a genetically engineered version of the IL-1 receptor that has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. All nine patients responded to the therapy. Seven patients had systemic symptoms, such as fever. A week after the first treatment the fever was gone from all seven and did not return for the length of the one-year follow up. Eight of the nine had active arthritis.

In these patients, the researchers observed decreases in the arthritic symptoms in the joints as well as improvement of hemoglobin levels, white blood cell count and a number of other indicators of arthritis. They found that the therapy completely restored the function of six of the eight patients and lessened the symptoms of the remaining two.; Source: Baylor Institute for Immunology Research