Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview of New and Emerging Therapies

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory, systemic autoimmune disorder characterized by symmetric inflammation of synovial joints leading to progressive erosion of cartilage and bone. The aim of treatment is to mitigate joint destruction, preserve function, and prevent disability. The American College of Rheumatology guidelines for the treatment of RA recommend that newly diagnosed patients with RA begin treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) within 3 months of diagnosis. Methotrexate remains the most commonly prescribed DMARD and is the standard by which recent new and emerging therapies are measured. Increasing knowledge regarding the immunologic basis of RA and advances in biotechnology have resulted in new, targeted biological therapies against proinflammatory cytokines that have dramatically changed the treatment paradigm and outcomes of patients with RA. This article reviews the pharmacological rationale underlying RA therapy, with a focus on currently available biological therapies and new therapies in development.

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