Biomarkers Could Drive Arthritis Research

Newly discovered markers give insights to spondylarthritis, experts say.

THURSDAY, May 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- An international team of scientists has identified new biomarkers that could help develop improved treatments for spondylarthritis (SpA).

SpA refers to a group of chronic autoimmune conditions, including ankylosing spondylitis and arthritis associated with psoriasis and inflammatory bowel diseases, primarily those affecting the peripheral joints.

In this study of 52 SpA patients, researchers identified the new biomarkers after analyzing tissue from the synovium, the thin membrane lining the joint space and the primary target of inflammation. The researchers found that changes in SpA disease activity are accompanied by a series of distinct and measurable events in synovial tissue.

The researchers also found differences in the synovial biomarkers between SpA patients receiving effective treatment and those receiving no treatment.

These changes in synovial tissue could be used to aid SpA research and treatment, they said.

"Their ability to correctly discriminate between effective and ineffective treatment in small patient cohorts makes them interesting biomarkers to facilitate conclusive, early phase clinical trials in SpA," study leader Dr. Dominique Baeten, of the University of Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center in Holland, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the June issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

More information

The American College of Rheumatology has more about ankylosing spondylitis.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, May 23, 2006
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