A large UK-wide study examining the impact of targeted drugs on the painful and debilitating condition of psoriatic arthritis, is officially launched today - World Arthritis Day.
The British Society for Rheumatology Psoriatic Arthritis Register aims to recruit 1500 patients from 80 hospital centres across the UK and the study will be led by a team based at the University of Aberdeen.
Around 120,000 people in the UK have psoriatic arthritis, which in addition to the common skin disease psoriasis, causes inflamed, stiff and painful joints. In severe cases joints can become permanently deformed or damaged, which may require surgery.
There are now a number of potent drugs available that target the specific defective pathways in the immune system which lead to the condition. This study will carefully examine the longer term effects and impact of these therapies in patients in the UK.
The five year study will compare the progress of people with the condition receiving these targeted drugs and those who receive other treatments as part of their standard NHS care.
Because the therapies alter the function of parts of the immune system, they could expose patients to a higher risk of unwanted side effects such as infections. The British Society for Rheumatology Psoriatic Arthritis Register will help to show whether or not this is the case. It will also address issues highlighted by patients as priority research areas, such as the use of these drugs in pregnancy and understanding their impact on pain, fatigue and ability to work.
Dr Gareth Jones, Reader of Epidemiology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The combination of arthritis and psoriasis can greatly reduce an individual’s quality of life, and can affect all aspects of their life including their mental health and their work.
“These drugs have proven to be hugely beneficial in treating rheumatoid arthritis so there is great interest in being able to study their benefits in psoriatic arthritis. Studies like this are absolutely essential to get ‘real world’ data on the effects and effectiveness of these new drugs in comparison to traditional treatments.
“We will follow up with patients regularly to check on their progress. A long-term approach to this study is required to make sure we are getting a full picture of what happens over a long period of time and to be able to document the benefits and any unwanted side-effects”
Ali Rivett, Chief Executive, British Society for Rheumatology said: “Everyone personally affected by or with professional interests in psoriatic arthritis in the UK needs to be aware of this new patient register. The British Society for Rheumatology is an enthusiastic partner in this work led by the team at the University of Aberdeen, and we hope to engage and enthuse health professionals, patients and researchers to ensure that as many hospital rheumatology units as possible join the study. On World Arthritis Day we are excited about the impact that this study will have on the lives of thousands of arthritis patients.”