A recent study indicates that biomarkers, developed from whole blood gene expression profiles, in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) may help predict the status of their disease at 12 months. A news release from the European League Against Rheumatism reports that the long-term disease status at 12 months was accurately predicted only after treatment had been initiated, in newly diagnosed patients.1

The release also notes that JIA is the most common childhood (under the age of 16) chronic rheumatic disease2, impacting 16 to 150 children in 100,000. The recent data was presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014).

James Jarvis, MD, PhD, department of Paediatrics, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, states in the release that, “By predicting disease progression in these young children, we can better understand the course of the disease and how best to treat the individual.”

Jarvis adds that the challenge researchers faced was to test the feasibility of using prognostic biomarkers from whole blood gene expression profiles in children with newly diagnosed JIA to predict disease status at one year. While baseline expression profiles that could predict disease status at 6 months could not predict disease status at 12 months, according to Jarvis, “using four month data (the earliest point at which samples were collected from children on treatment) we were able to determine strong predictive properties for disease status at 12 months. Thus, after children had initiated therapy longer term outcome was predictable.”

Additionally, the release states that during the study researchers also observed the appearance of different mechanisms of response in Rheumatoid Factor (RF) positive and RF negative patients after 4 months of therapy, a finding which they say may explain the relative refractoriness of RF positive patients to otherwise effect therapies.

The release notes that researchers studied whole blood expression profiles from children enrolled in the TREAT study, an NIH-funded clinical trial intended to compare methotrexate (MTX) with MTX + etanercept in children with newly-diagnosed JIA. Gene profiles were examined in order to pinpoint genes whose expression levels best predicted outcome at 12 months.

References Listed:

1 Yao J, Jiang K, Franks MB et al. Developing prognostic biomarkers from whole blood expression profiling in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Influence of early therapy on treatment outcome. EULAR 2014; Paris: OP0187

2 Ravelli A, Martini A. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Lancet 2007;369:767

Source(s): Science Daily, European League Against Rheumatism