New therapies for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Lancet. 2007 Dec 1;370(9602):1861-74. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60784-3.


Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by pain, swelling, and destruction of joints, with resultant disability. Only disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs can interfere with the disease process. In the past few years, biological agents, especially inhibitors of tumour necrosis factor, have allowed for hitherto unseen therapeutic benefit, although even with these drugs the frequency and degree of responses are restricted. Therefore, new agents are needed, and three novel biological compounds for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis have already been used in practice or are on the horizon: rituximab (anti-CD20), abatacept (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 immunoglobulin), and tocilizumab (anti-interleukin 6 receptor). We discuss the targets of these drugs, the roles of these targets in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, and the efficacy and adverse effects of these agents from clinical trial data. Novel therapeutic strategies in conjunction with optimised disease assessment for better treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and an outlook into potential future targets are also presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abatacept
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / adverse effects
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Rituximab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Rituximab
  • Abatacept
  • tocilizumab