PHILADELPHIA – Patients with gout – a painful type of inflammatory arthritis caused by the crystallization of urates in soft tissues – are advised to start treatment that lowers uric acid levels in the blood. Unfortunately, as the long-term medication starts to break down crystals deposited in the joints, many patients experience gout attacks caused by the release of crystals from softened deposits.
Now, these painful gout attacks may be preventable. Using a drug shown to substantially reduce gout flares, new research performed at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), showed that rilonacept effectively halts the cascade of events leading to these flare-ups, compared with placebo, by acting as a decoy to attract and then trap the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1).
This is the first study to demonstrate an effective prophylactic treatment to prevent acute gout flares during initiation of urate-lowering therapy.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II trial, there were significantly fewer gout flares (6 flares on rilonacept, 33 flares on placebo) and a significantly lower percentage of patients with flares on rilonacept compared with placebo (15 percent vs 45 percent).
“This trial provides well-controlled evidence that this IL-1 blocker is effective in preventing acute gout flares in this setting,” said the study's lead author, H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr., MD, professor of Medicine in Rheumatology with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study was sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc, the maker of rilonacept. Dr. Schumacher has received consulting fees from Regeneron, Takeda, Savient, Ardea, Pfizer, Xoma, and Novartis.
For more information on the study, see the Arthritis & Rheumatism press release.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 16 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $398 million awarded in the 2012 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2012, Penn Medicine provided $827 million to benefit our community.