MRA and rheumatoid arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

MRA is an inhibitor of interleukin-6 (IL-6). This drug is also known as tociluzimab. It is marketed with the trade name "Actemra." Multiple clinical trials have investigated this drug and it has received FDA approval.

One study presented at a national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology a few years ago demonstrated its effectiveness.

A Multi-Center, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Humanized Anti-interleukin-6 (IL-6) Receptor Monoclonal Antibody (MRA) in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

N Nishimoto, K Yoshizaki, N Miyasaka, K Yamamoto, S Kawai, T Takeuchi, J Hashimoto, J Azuma, T Kishimoto

This Japanese study was performed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody (MRA) for the treatment of active RA patients who had failed DMARDs and to find the optimal dose. MRA, also known as tocilizumab, is a humanized anti-human IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody.

The investigators concluded that treatment with MRA was effective and appeared to be well tolerated.

IL-6 plays a major role in the systemic features and in B cell maturation/activation in RA. The results from animal models suggested that inhibition of IL6 in patients with RA may be of clinical benefit.

An alternative strategy for blocking IL6 is to target the IL6 Receptor.

The above study strongly supports the efficacy of this treatment in relieving the signs and symptoms of RA. It will be interesting in future studies to determine whether progression of disease can be slowed and possibly halted by anti-IL6 therapy.

Numerous postmarketing studies have been conducted as well. It is now approved for first line use after methotrexate and also approved as monotherapy.

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