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The findings of a study offer new hope for patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), severe arthritis of the spine. During a 6-month clinical trial, researchers affiliated with the German Rheumatology Research Center in Berlin tested the effectiveness of etanercept?a fully human protein that inhibits tumor necrosis factor (a major culprit for joint inflammation)?on patients with AS. This novel drug has already proven effective in easing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The result was a dramatic reduction in AS through a course of treatment combining etanercept with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If successful, early and continuous etanercept treatment could prevent spinal fusion and the loss of mobility associated with AS. The findings were published in the June 2003 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.