A new clinical research study has been launched in the UK that will explore why the current gold standard biologics for people with rheumatoid arthritis do not work in around a third of patients.

The National Institute for Health Research has linked up with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit to investigate “key mechanisms associated with a lack of response” to anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNF) therapies.
Run by an NIHR Translational Research Partnership, the study could provide information that will enable better targeting of anti-TNF therapies and “should lead  to the development of new and alternative treatments for the up to half a million people in the UK affected by RA”. Some 50 patients will be recruited for the 18-month trial.

Life sciences minister George Freeman said that “as we embrace the 21st century model of precision medicines, research into how and why existing drugs affect patients in different ways is vital to better targeting drugs and our NHS budgets”.

RA affects about 0.8% of the UK population and is a significant health burden, costing the NHS some £560 million per year.