Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor Treatments can now be used to successfully treat Ankylosing Spondylitis

Posted Nov 23, 2006 by Telafree

Enbrel and Remicade are now available to help a previously untreatable disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis(AS) affects about 0.5%–1.0% of the population and typically begins between the ages of 15 and 40 years. It causes painful stiffness of the spine, progressive disability and loss of independence during the prime productive years. About 70% of patients go on to develop bony fusion of the spine, and the mortality rate for people with the condition is 1.5–4 times higher than that of the general population. To date, the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis has been unsatisfactory to both patients and doctors. In 1995 it was discovered that the inflammation of the sacro-iliac (SI) joints in patients with AS contained what is called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). It is what our immune system normally uses to attack cancer cells. In an AS patient, the TNF is out of control and is attacking perfecly healthy joints and this causes the swelling, redness, heat pain and disability. Inflammation of the SI joints is sometimes the first sign of AS. From 1995 and on, a working group of doctors came together to create a way to diagnose the disease. It was thought at first that a positive HLA-B27 gene blood test was the biggest symptom to help diagnose the disease but in the past year, the Australian health officials "Requested the removal of HLA-B27 positive status from eligibility criteria for ankylosing spondyliti"s. This lead to furthur treatment studies of using the Anti-TNF drugs to treat AS. The anti-TNF drugs have been used for the past 10 years to successfully Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). These drugs give an AS'er a 60% chance of experiencing partial remission. Partial remission may mean the difference of taking 15 pills vs. two shots in the thigh.
Prepare for an influx of canes and wheelchairs, it sounds like a lot of people might get their quality of life to be just a little bit better then it has been in the past 10 years.