According to a recent news release, the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation (REF) has committed to funding two clinical trials centered on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remission and risks. The $6 million that the organization has committed to providing will fund one clinical trial geared toward stopping anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents during RA remission and a second clinical trial designed to assess the potentially deadly cardiovascular risks linked to RA. 

David Daikh, MD, PhD, calls the grants the largest funded by the REF to date. Clinical trials are often funded through private sources or the National Institutes of Health—making the REF’s first foray into clinical trials especially important to the rheumatology community and rheumatology patients. “The REF is leading a new era of rheumatology research that focuses on finding medical breakthroughs and cures, and these trials are a symbol of that,” Daikh adds

The first trial, the Foundation notes, aims to determine if RA patients who take anti-TNF agents can maintain remission without that therapy. The trial will assess RA patients in clinical remission for at least 6 months on standard RA therapy. Participants will also continue to either receive their current mediation or a placebo, researchers say. 

The trial can potentially provide RA patients and practicing rheumatologists knowledge about successfully stopping anti-TNF and which RA patients may be effectively withdrawn on the basis of their clinical features, imaging results, or blood immunology, says Arthur Weinstein, lead investigator, MD, FACP, FRCP, MACR, professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, chief of rheumatology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

In the second trial, researchers note that they will explore whether biologic medications such as adalimumab, can lessen cardiovascular risks in RA patients. The researchers report that they are specifically aiming to determine whether accelerated treatment of well-controlled RA can assist in reducing heart disease. The trial will reportedly encompass 60 participants with minimal symptoms being treated with standard non-biologic therapy. Researchers will administer either adalimimab or a placebo to the patients for 6 months. The release notes that the patients will also be evaluated for improvement in cardiovascular disease risk using a variety of tests that measure blood flow and function. Researchers add that they will also assess the change in cardiovascular risk by switching control groups. 

Source: American College of Rheumatology Research and Education Foundation