Immunogenicity and loss of response to TNF inhibitors: implications for rheumatoid arthritis treatment

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| The availability of monoclonal antibodies has revolutionized the treatment of an increasingly broad spectrum of diseases. Inflammatory diseases are among those most widely treated with protein-based therapeutics, termed biologics. Following the first large-scale clinical trials with monoclonal antibodies performed in the 1990s by rheumatologists and clinical immunologists, the approval of these agents for use in daily clinical practice led to substantial progress in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Despite this progress, however, only a proportion of patients achieve a long-term clinical response. Data on the use of agents blocking TNF, which were among the first biologics introduced into clinical practice, provide ample evidence of primary and secondary treatment inefficacy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Important issues relevant to primary and secondary failure of these agents in RA include immunogenicity, methodological problems for the detection of antidrug antibodies and trough drug levels, and the implications for treatment strategies. Although there is no strong evidence to support the routine estimation of antidrug antibodies or serum trough levels during anti-TNF therapy, these assessments might be helpful in a few clinical situations; in particular, they might guide decisions on switching the therapeutic biologic in certain instances of secondary clinical failure.

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