Latest Treatment Options for Autoimmune Arthritis: A Complete Guide

New Treatment Options for Autoimmune Arthritis
3 Jun 2024
9 mins
Table Of Content
Latest Treatment Options for Autoimmune Arthritis: A Complete Guide

    Autoimmune arthritis is known as a clinical condition where the body’s immune system erroneously attacks its own organs, posing significant challenges for patients and physicians. This condition includes several diseases like psoriatic arthritis (PsA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), among others. Advances in medical research have led to innovative treatment options that improve patient outcomes and quality of life. This blog delineates the latest treatment options for autoimmune arthritis, their mechanism of action, advantages, and potential side effects associated with it. 


    What is autoimmune arthritis? 


    It is a clinical condition in which severe inflammation is observed in joints and other parts of the body due to the hyperactivity of immune cells. Typically, joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility are observed in this disease condition. Prolonged autoimmune arthritis may damage the joints and cause disability if not managed effectively. 


    What are the conventional therapeutic strategies for autoimmune arthritis? 


    Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Corticosteroids, and Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) are the major three classes of drugs utilized to treat autoimmune arthritis. Prolonged treatment with these drugs may cause side effects like dizziness, stomach ache, vomiting, and rashes and may lead to kidney and liver problems. 


    Advancements in the medical field have attempted to develop new drug molecules to manage autoimmune arthritis with minimal side effects. 


    What are the next-generation therapeutic agents for autoimmune arthritis? 


    These medications were found to reduce symptoms effectively with minimal side effects. 


    Biologic Agents


    Biologic agents have revolutionized the treatment of autoimmune arthritis. These drugs are engineered to target specific components of the immune system that drive inflammation.


    1. Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Inhibitors: Physicians are currently utilizing TNF inhibitors such as etanercept, infliximab, and adalimumab. All these medications block TNF, a molecule involved in systemic inflammation or pain. These drugs have shown significant therapeutic efficacy in reducing symptoms and preventing joint damage in RA, PsA, and AS.
    2. Interleukin Inhibitors: These include IL-1 inhibitors and IL-6 inhibitors (tocilizumab), which target specific interleukins involved in the inflammatory process. Secukinumab is a IL-17 inhibitor particularly effective in PsA and AS.
    3. B-cell Inhibitors: These classes of medication target B cells and reduce their antibody-forming capability, resulting in pain reduction. For example, Rituximab targets CD20-positive B cells and reduces inflammation. It is mainly used in RA patients who have not responded to other treatments.
    4. T-cell Costimulatory Blockers: Abatacept interferes with T-cell activation, another critical component of the immune response in autoimmune arthritis.


    Janus Kinase (JAK) Inhibitors


    A newer class of oral medications, JAK inhibitors, has emerged as a gold-standard treatment option for autoimmune arthritis. JAK inhibitors interfere with the signaling pathways inside immune cells, which leads to inflammation.


    • Tofacitinib: This class of drug is approved to treat ulcerative colitis, RA and PsA. It can be used alone or in combination with other drugs to achieve better results.
    • Baricitinib: This molecule is utilized in patients who do not respond to TNF inhibitors. It was observed to produce excellent results in managing pain and reducing swelling, which improves mobility in patients.


    Small Molecule Inhibitors


    In addition to JAK inhibitors, other small molecule inhibitors are being used for their potential in treating autoimmune arthritis. Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) Inhibitor is a PDE4 inhibitor granted for the treatment of PsA and plaque psoriasis. It helps to lower inflammation by modulating the immune response.

     Personalized Medicine


    Personalized medicine helps researchers to tailor the medicine by studying the DNA, biomarkers, phenotypic, and psychosocial characteristics of a patient. Advances in genomic technologies and biomarker research are paving the way for more precise therapeutic strategies. 


    This strategy involves in genetic testing of HLA genes which are linked with an elevated risk of developing RA and AS. Similarly, C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and specific autoantibodies (e.g., rheumatoid factor, anti-CCP) are some biomarkers which are utilized to check the disease progression and treatment. 


    Lifestyle and Complementary Therapies


    Alongside pharmacological treatments, lifestyle modifications and complementary therapies play a critical role in managing autoimmune arthritis.


    1. Diet and Nutrition: Anti-inflammatory diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and whole foods can assist to reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Specific diets, like the Mediterranean diet, have shown benefits for arthritis patients.
    2. Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps maintain joint function, reduce stiffness, and improve mood. Activities such as swimming, yoga, and tai chi are particularly beneficial.
    3. Stress Management: Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can assist in managing stress and improve coping mechanisms, which can positively impact disease activity.
    4. Physical and Occupational Therapy: These therapies aid tailored exercises and techniques to elevate joint function, reduce pain, and enhance daily living skills.

     Emerging Therapy


    Apart from these medical interventions, there are some emerging strategies that have shown excellent results in preclinical setups. Gene therapy, stem cell therapy, and nanomedicine are some classic examples of emerging therapies that might be employed in the near future. 


    1. Gene Therapy: This approach attempts to modify the genes responsible for autoimmunity. Modifications in these genes may reduce inflammation and enhance patient mobility.
    2. Stem Cell Therapy: In this approach, several grafts seeded with stem cells or stem cells alone are transplanted to regenerate the damaged organs due to autoimmunity.
    3. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems such as liposomes, nanoparticles and nanocomposites are being developed to target specific tissues and cells, improving the therapeutic efficacy and safety of treatments.


    Treatment strategies for autoimmune arthritis treatment are rapidly evolving, which induces a ray of hope for improved outcomes with minimal side effects. Physicians are utilizing next-generation therapeutic drugs and lifestyle interventions to treat autoimmune diseases. 


    However, comprehensive research is required to produce personalized medicines, which might be possible with an interdisciplinary research approach involving doctors, scientists, and pharmacists coming under one roof. Ongoing research and innovation hold promise for effective and tailored treatments in the future, ensuring that patients with autoimmune arthritis can lead healthier, more active lives. 

    Written by
    Dr. Purusottam MishraMedical Content Writer
    AboutPurusottam Mishra is working as a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India in 2023. His area of expertise are drug delivery, nanomedicine, tissue engineering, and biomaterials. He has five years of experience in research, writing, editing and proofreading of medical content.
    Tags :autoimmune arthritistherapeutic agents for autoimmune arthritisautoimmune arthritisNonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)