Patient-Driven Research, Biomarkers, and More from the ACR Meeting

January 27, 2014 in RPF News

RPF member Andrew Lumpe describes a few highlights from the recent American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting in San Diego. Andrew is a professor at Seattle Pacific University and a talented statistician who coauthored one of RPF’s recent abstracts published at ACR.

By Andrew Lumpe

Patient-driven research on the impact of physical activity

Dana-Kelly-Andrew-postersI was privileged to spend three wonderful days at the ACR scientific meeting in San Diego. The highlight was a research paper (poster) that a team from RPF presented. The goal of this study was to obtain greater understanding of the nature of RA as experienced by patients. This study involved a patient survey that contained some questions related to consequences of performing certain physical tasks and whether a recovery period followed.

The results of this study suggest an aspect of disease impact on physical functional that is not detected by a common assessment tool used by doctors and researchers, the “HAQ.” Several results of this survey indicate the existence of a “recovery period” after physical activity in people living with rheumatoid disease (RD). The survey data also indicate that patients modify activity to manage consequences of RD. Further investigation is needed to develop ways for patient outcome measures to more accurately assess rheumatoid disease activity.

It was exciting to participate in patient-driven research about RD and the goal is that such efforts will continue to inform clinicians and researchers so that diagnosis and treatment will improve.

More observations from the ACR meeting

In addition to the research paper presentation, I spent time volunteering at the RPF exhibit where I was able to meet other wonderful volunteers and speak to doctors and researchers about the patient perspective and the goals of the RPF. In between shifts working at the exhibit, I attended several excellent sessions and browsed the poster presentations. Below are several keys ideas I gleaned from the conference.

  • The information age stands to completely transform medicine and drug development.
  • There is a “patent cliff” coming soon where many current pharmaceutical companies will loose patents on drugs. The question remains about who will develop new drugs after this happens.
  • Huge online databases may be able to help identify genes connected to diseases (diagnostics) and be used to develop new drugs (therapeutics).
  • Patient self-assessments of RA symptoms align with rheumatologist assessments about 50-70% of the time. Questions remain about where they disagree.
  • There are several new RA drugs in phase III clinical trials that may make it to market soon.
  • The exhibit hall was overwhelming and pharmaceutical companies who sell popular biological medicines spend vast amounts of money on marketing at ACR.
  • Personalized medicine based on genomics and autoantibody profiles may be in the future.
  • Biomarkers for various signaling pathways may be used in future drug development.
  • Autoimmune antibody markers other than Rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-CCP are being investigated in order to better predict Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis.
  • People with positive RF and Anti-CCP tests tend to have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines.
  • The lung is being investigated as a possible site of RA initiation.
  • Systemic inflammation of RA may contribute to depression.

It’s exciting that through the RPF, people actually living with the disease have the opportunity engage with health care professionals at their scientific meeting. Such interaction is critical for advancing research and ensuring the best quality care and treatments.

Read more from Andrew on his blog – click here.

Rheumatoid Awareness Day is just a week away – February 2.

This year patients and organizations across the U.S. and in other countries are observing the second ever awareness day for RD. For updates on RPF sponsored Awareness Day events – click here.

Click here to learn more about Rheumatoid Awareness Day, February 2.