New Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Treatments On The Horizon

There are two new treatments on the horizon for AS. These developments have researchers, inculding QUT's  Professor Matt Brown, very excitied.

Treatment 1 - Collaboration with Janssen-Cilag

For 40 years it was thought that a gene called HLA-B27 was the only gene involved in the development of AS. “But since 2007 we have identified more than 26 other genes involved in the development of AS” states Professor Brown.

Professor Brown and colleagues published research in Nature Genetics in 2011, explaining how select enzymes work with HLA-B27 to help the immune system distinguish between what is self and what is foreign. In AS genetic variants result in the production of overactive enzymes that act in combination with HLA-B27 to induce arthritis.

With further research Professor Brown and his team identified two enzymes as promising drug targets. “We think that by inhibiting these enzymes we could be able to switch off the immune reaction that cause AS and other related diseases.” he said.

“We’ve partnered with a major international pharmaceutical company Janssen to develop this completely new class of anti-rheumatic medication which should be a tablet-based medication.” One of the exciting aspects of this research is that the process to treatment may be streamlined.

Treatment 2 - Targeting Interleukin 23 pathway

Another class of therapies just coming into trial in AS targets another gene pathway identified back in 2006. They target the Interleukin 23 pathway (IL-23) which is an important part of the inflammatory response against infection.

Professor Brown reports: “In 2010 the first clinical trials were registered and they’re just starting to show phase 2 and some phase 3 data that inhibiting this pathway is at least as effective as TNF inhibitors. I’m really interested to see if you treat high-risk people whether we can actually stop them getting the disease in the first place with those agents."