It's frustrating enough to deal with the skin condition psoriasis. But for the unlucky 10% or so who go on to develop a related type of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis, it can be challenging to simultaneously manage symptoms on the skin's surface and beneath it.
Fortunately, a class of medications called biologics can offer a lasting return to normalcy for two-thirds of psoriatic arthritis patients, according to a new study.
What are biologics?
Unlike conventional medications, which are made by combining chemicals, biologics are created by engineering living cells to manufacture useful proteins. These proteins are very effective at treating the inflammation associated with conditions like psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
In this study, researchers followed 226 psoriatic arthritis patients who were taking biologics known as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) blockers. Examples of these are Humira (adalimumab), Enbrel (etanercept), Remicade (infliximab), and Simponi (golimumab).
The scientists wanted to monitor how many participants reached a remission-like state with few or no symptoms known as Minimal Disease Activity (MDA). After an average time of 15 months, 63% of the study participants had reached MDA. This lasted for an average of 3.5 years.1
Biologics helpful to most, but more research is needed
Although a majority of the participants had good results with the biologics, researchers note that one-third of participants didn't achieve MDA, and further study is needed to determine the most effective way to treat those with psoriatic arthritis who don't respond to biologics.
In addition to biologics, treatment options for psoriatic arthritis include:
- Light therapy
- Topical treatments
- Other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
For a complete guide of treatment options, see Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment.
- Minimal disease activity and anti-TNF Therapy in psoriatic arthritis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Dec 2. [Epub ahead of print]