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American College of Rheumatology 70th Annual Meeting, Nov.10-15, 2006

American College of Rheumatology's 70th Annual Meeting

The American College of Rheumatology's (ACR) 70th annual meeting took place from Nov.10 to 15 in Washington, D.C. With 8,700 attendees, it was "a forum for the latest and most innovative findings and their clinically relevant applications," said ACR President Mary K. Crow, M.D., who is at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

"The overall trend of this meeting is better ways of using new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis including how we choose which drugs we want to use and in what sequence we want to use them," agreed Eric Ruderman, M.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. To that end, new data from the Probable Rheumatoid Arthritis: Methotrexate versus Placebo Treatment (PROMPT) study suggested that there is a window of opportunity during which methotrexate can stave off progression to rheumatoid arthritis among patients with undifferentiated arthritis who are seropositive for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies. In addition, three-year results from the BeSt study found that early induction therapy with infliximab plus methotrexate can bring about remission in some rheumatoid arthritis patients. "If we intervene early, we may change the nature of the disease," Ruderman said.

But other autoimmune diseases including lupus also garnered a lot of attention at this year's meeting, he said. "The number of papers and research on using some of the same and different biologics in lupus is exploding and there is a change in the way that we are managing the disease, just like we saw with rheumatoid arthritis a few years ago," he said. Rheumatologists reported degrees of success treating lupus with rituximab (Rituxan), abatacept (Orencia) and belimumab, an anti-BlyS agent. "Other B-cell targeted therapies that are further downstream also show some initial promise," he said.

Biomarkers of disease severity and responsiveness also emerged as a theme. One new study showed that clinical response to anti-tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inhibitors can be predicted on the basis of TNF-α expression in the synovium. Another study showed that matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP3) is a significant predictor of joint damage in ankylosing spondylitis.

The meeting also drew attention to some non-clinical issues including the difficulties that academic medical centers are experiencing in recruiting and retaining rheumatologists. The ACR Workforce Study found that the demand for rheumatologists will exceed the supply in the next 20 years due to the aging of the population and the increasing prevalence of musculoskeletal diseases.

ACR: Pregabalin May Help Fibromyalgia Patients

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Pregabalin may offer extended pain relief for fibromyalgia patients, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Washington, D.C.

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ACR: Early Treatment May Slow Arthritis Progression

THURSDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Treating rheumatoid arthritis patients early can slow joint damage and disease progression, according to two studies presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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ACR: Adalimumab Effective in Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The tumor necrosis factor-α blocker adalimumab, with or without methotrexate, safely and rapidly cuts down on flares among patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Washington, D.C.

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ACR: Quadriceps Strength May Prevent Cartilage Loss

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Quadriceps strength may prevent cartilage loss at the patellofemoral joint among patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Washington, D.C. While there was concern that quadriceps strength could be deleterious to the tibiofemoral joint, the new research also shows that it does not worsen cartilage loss at this site.

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ACR: Pregnant Women with Lupus at High Risk for Death

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus are at increased risk for serious complications during pregnancy, which contributes to the fact that they have 20 times the risk of death as moms without lupus, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

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ACR: Differing Limb Lengths Increases Arthritis Risk

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Having limbs that differ in length by at least 2 centimeters nearly doubles the risk of having knee osteoarthritis, according to study findings presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting in Washington, DC.

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ACR: Losing Weight Improves Knee Pain

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Losing just 15 pounds can result in substantial pain relief among patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to new research presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting in Washington, D.C.

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