Rheum Round-up: Blood Test to Guide RA Treatment, COVID’s Osteoporosis Impact, and more

A Blood Test May Help Determine Which Patients with RA Will Respond to Treatment

A new study found that blood biomarkers may be useful in identifying patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who will respond to disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Despite the widespread use of DMARDs—either alone or in combination—as an RA treatment, DMARD treatment does not usually result in full remission; up to half of patients with RA are DMARD-resistant or become resistant to DMARDs overtime, according to the researchers.

The researchers found that peripheral blood specialized pro-resolving mediator (SPM) concentrations may be predictive of a patient’s response to DMARDs. Plasma SPM concentrations still differed between responders and non-responders, even six months after DMARD initiation.

A Blood Test May Help Determine Which Patients with RA Will Respond to Treatment

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Had a Major Impact on Osteoporosis Management

In one way or another, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of health care. And according to a study, this includes the management of osteoporosis, which may have sustained significant adverse effects. From February through April, the researchers observed a significant decline in worldwide use of the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) website.

“As a global tool the FRAX website provides an excellent opportunity to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on osteoporosis, a major non-communicable disease (NCD) with a significant impact on older adults worldwide,” said lead study author Professor Eugene McCloskey, professor in adult bone disease at the Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield, UK, in a press release. “The findings of this study reveal that, since the pandemic was officially declared by the [World Health Organization] on March 11, there has been a dramatic drop in FRAX usage, averaging 58% but ranging up to 96%, with two-thirds of the 66 countries/territories evaluated showing reductions by at least 50%.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Had a Major Impact on Osteoporosis Management

Tocilizumab Effectiveness Not Impacted by Obesity in Patients with RA

Obesity does not diminish the effectiveness of tocilizumab to treat patients with RA, according to a study.

The present study included patients in the Corrona RA registry who were classified by comorbidity status per a modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI) (low [mCCI <2] or high [mCCI ≥2]) and obesity status based on their body mass index (BMI) (obese, BMI ≥30; nonobese, BMI <30). At six and 12 months following tocilizumab initiation, patients were compared for improved disease activity and functionality.

More than 95% of patients were biologic experienced, and about a third of patients received tocilizumab alone; no significant differences were observed by comorbidity burden or obesity status. At six and 12 month follow-up, none of the groups presented significant differences in improvements in disease activity and functionality.

Tocilizumab Effectiveness Not Impacted by Obesity in Patients with RA