The progress that has been made in diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis in recent years lays the foundations for even more exciting developments in the future.
In the diagnostics field, Roche’s goal is to enable rheumatoid arthritis to be detected earlier through a reliable disease indicator in the form of a biomarker incorporated in a diagnostic test. Our hope is that biomarkers will be able to recognise the disease within weeks, or even days, so that treatment can prevent joint damage.
In terms of treatment, biopharmaceuticals now provide direct access to the many different sites at which it might be possible to intervene in a malfunctioning immune system. Progress is being made at an ever increasing rate and a decisive turning point in treatment is now in sight.
Roche already believes the goal of remission - the point when all or most of the patient’s symptoms of the disease have gone away and further damage to the joints has stopped - is an achievable target.
Other new forms of treatment in development at Roche include a molecule that inhibits the inflammatory process and a therapeutic antibody that directly inhibits bone destruction.
The challenge is to have available a range of therapies that act at different sites in the immune system. In the long run we want to be able to identify the appropriate component of the immune system in each individual patient to enable effective treatment to start as soon as possible.
We hope that one day biomarkers (indicators that assess the biological state of an organism) will be able to predict which drugs are most appropriate and likely to work in a particular patient, depending on their genetic predisposition, lifestyle and environmental conditions, and what dosage will have the greatest effect.
Our goal is to use modern technologies to provide more powerful diagnostic tools and even more effective and targeted biopharmaceutical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.