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Rheumatoid arthritis medication successfully treats rare eye disease

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published results from an international group of researchers that demonstrate the effectiveness of a common rheumatoid arthritis medication against the rare eye disease non-infectious uveitis.

The paper, titled “Adalimumab in Patients with Active Noninfectious Uveitis,” described the success of the research team’s application of the biologic medication adalimumab in the treatment of non-anterior, non-infectious uveitis, which causes inflammation in the inner eye, particularly the uvea.

“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,” Barisani-Asenbauer said. “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.”

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Steroid-free treatment means that the medication can be used safely for longer periods of time, and that patients will suffer fewer side-effects. Approximately five in 10,000 people in Europe suffer from uveitis, with non-anterior, non-infectious uveitis affecting approximately 40 percent of those with the disease. The majority of those affected are between the ages of 20 and 60, with first symptoms including floaters in the visual field, blurred vision, visual disturbances and photosensitivity.

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