New Rheumatoid Arthritis Network Aims to Personalize Treatment

A new network from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will create a national database that aims to see how rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients respond to different RA drugs, and then use that information to further personalize RA treatment.

A new network from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will create a national database that aims to see how rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients respond to different RA drugs, and then use that information to further personalize RA treatment.

Treatment Efficacy and Toxicity in Rheumatoid Arthritis Database and Repository (TETRAD) is led by UAB and includes 10 other participating sites. TETRAD will “create a large, sustainable database of treatment-response data and a repository of accompanying samples of DNA and blood cells from RA patients starting treatment with different drugs,” according to the researchers. S. Louis Bridges Jr, MD, PhD, director of the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and principal investigator for TETRAD, said that collecting this information will explore one of the biggest problems for health professionals who are trying to establish personalized medicine for RA.

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"TETRAD will address one of the major roadblocks to personalized medicine in RA, which is the lack of coordinated effort between academic researchers, federal funding agencies, voluntary health agencies, professional organizations, the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology companies," said Bridges. “The ultimate goal is to better understand the molecular basis of treatment response and to rapidly accelerate research in RA to allow prediction of which drugs will work best in individual patients."

According to the researchers, no single drug for RA works well for every patient, and the cost of the different drugs varies from $400 to $15,000 a year. The TETRAD team feels that it is not new drugs that will enhance care for patients with RA, but an improvement in the use of drugs that already exist.

"TETRAD will fill a critical need by aligning and uniting the efforts of many organizations with the common goal of improving care for RA patients," Bridges said. "By unifying the efforts of academic researchers, we can create resources that would not otherwise be available, such as a bank of cryo-preserved blood cells to enable sophisticated immunologic research to dissect molecular signals of successful treatment of RA."