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Carol Eustice

Canakinumab: Promising Drug Being Developed for Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

By December 22, 2012

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Results from two phase III trials, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that ACZ885 (canakinumab) significantly relieved symptoms in young patients with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The drug also delayed the recurrence of flares and allowed the SIJA patients to substantially reduce or discontinue the use of corticosteroids. Despite known side effects and because treatment options are limited, corticosteroids have commonly been used to treat systemic JIA.

ACZ885 (canakinumab) is a fully human monoclonal antibody that inhibits IL-1 beta. Excessive production of IL-1 beta is thought to play a role in SIJA and certain other inflammatory diseases. In the studies, after 15 days of treatment, 84% of SIJA patients treated with canakinumab had a 30% improvement in symptoms compared to 10% given a placebo. Of those treated with canakinumab, 45% who were using corticosteroids when the study began were able to reduce their use, while one-third were actually able to stop using corticosteroids. For patients who will be good candidates for Novartis' canakinumab, the future is looking a bit brighter.

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