Anti-tumor necrosis factor therapies.
Recently published studies confirm that the long-term use of biologicals targeting tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) gives rise to sustained improvement in symptoms and signs of disease provided the anti-TNF agent is efficacious and of low immunogenicity. The current regimens for infliximab 3 or 10 mg/kg infusion in combination with weekly oral methotrexate, or of etanercept 25 mg subcutaneously twice per week, appear to fulfill these criteria. D2E7, a "human" antibody produced by phage display, has also been used for over a year. It has recently emerged that anti-TNF therapy protects joints from structural damage. The 1-year data for infliximab and methotrexate combination therapy suggest that this regimen reduces disability. In early RA, etanercept acts more rapidly than methotrexate to decrease symptoms and retard the progression of erosions. In conclusion, for patients with established and early RA, anti-TNF therapies set a new standard for symptom control and joint protection.