Rheumatoid arthritis patients given new treatment hope
New data has revealed that tens of thousands of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers who cannot take the current mainstay of treatment, methotrexate (MTX), are almost four times as likely to achieve disease remission from RoActemra (tocilizumab) compared to patients taking the most widely prescribed anti TNF, Humira (adalimumab).
Patients treated with RoActemra also achieved a significantly greater reduction in their disease signs and symptoms after six months, which includes painful joint swelling and difficulty in completing everyday tasks.
This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate superiority between two approved biological drugs in RA patients with an intolerance or inadequate response to MTX.
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MTX is the current standard of care for patients with RA in the UK and has been used in treatment since the late 1980’s.
However, of the estimated 46,000 RA patients on a biologic treatment in the UK, approximately one in three are not taking MTX, as they are intolerant to the drug or where treatment with MTX for other reasons is inappropriate.
For those RA patients who cannot tolerate MTX, side effects can include nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, hair loss and skin rashes – perhaps explaining why 30 percent of all biologics patients are on biological monotherapy.
The results, presented today at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology, of the pioneering global head-to-head ADACTA (ADalimumab ACTemrA) study among 326 patients, including five trial centres in the UK, confirm tocilizumab’s superior efficacy over adalimumab offering an alternative treatment option for the thousands of RA patients unable to take MTX.
In a separate study, tocilizumab is the first and only biologic to have published data to demonstrate its superiority as a biologic monotherapy treatment over MTX in standard RA clinical efficacy parameters at 24 weeks.
Tocilizumab works differently from other RA treatments by targeting IL-6 receptors which are found throughout the body.
In RA, excess IL-6 is linked to inflammation of the joints, joint destruction, and many systemic manifestations such as fatigue and anaemia.
Inhibiting IL-6 has an effect on systemic and local RA symptoms, providing a holistic approach to treating the condition.
Tocilizumab therapy has an established safety profile as demonstrated over 69,330 patient years.
The most common adverse reactions reported in clinical studies were upper respiratory tract infection, nasopharyngitis, headache, elevated blood pressure, and increased liver enzymes.
The serious adverse reactions reported in clinical studies include serious infections, gastrointestinal perforations and hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis.
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Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”