A new study has found that a well-known rheumatoid arthritis medication may help treat non-infectious uveitis, a rare eye disease that can lead to loss of vision.
Uveitis is the name used for inflammatory conditions of the inner eye, in particular the uvea, which consists of the iris and the ciliary body in the front section and the choroid in the back section. Inflammation can also affect the other parts of the eye, such as the retina and the vitreous body.
Researchers said that this arthritis drug contains the active agent adalimumab, a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody.
One of the researchers, Talin Barisani-Asenbauer from Medical University of Vienna in Austria said, “We were able to prospectively demonstrate for the very first time that non-infectious uveitis can also be successfully treated with a cortisol-free medication”.
The biologic medication adalimumab has long been used to treat rheumatic diseases and has to be injected subcutaneously every two weeks.
For sufferers, steroid-free means there are fewer side-effects, so that it can be used over a longer period of time.
“That will significantly improve the management of uveitis patients who have only partially responded to corticosteroids, need a corticosteroid sparing therapy or who are unsuitable for treatment with corticosteroids,” Barisani-Asenbauer added.
The first symptoms of the disease are floaters in the visual field, blurred vision, visual disturbances and photosensitivity.
Potential complications of uveitis are macular oedema (accumulation of fluid in the retina), glaucoma or cataracts, for example. Uveitis can even lead to loss of vision.
The results of the multinational phase-three trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.