Biologic Therapies May Conquer Inflammatory Diseases

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003

    New biologic therapies are on the brink of making great strides against chronic diseases such as arthritis, according to experts. Biologic therapies are drugs derived from living cells instead of synthesized chemicals. These new drugs promise to radically change the treatment of diseases caused by inflammation of the body?s tissues. Progress made in the fields of genetics, microbiology, and bioengineering has led to the development of drugs that can interfere with inflammation at the molecular level. Of the new drugs, Enbrel (etanercept) has been approved by the FDA for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis and Remicade (infliximab) for RA. These and other new therapies are being tried in patients with psoriasis as well.

    Currently, said Anthony Gaspari, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, ?there is no cure for any of the inflammatory diseases. As we unravel the mysteries of the immune system and identify genes that are passed on in families, we may be able to develop therapies that can cure these awful diseases. For now, the biologics are the advance guard of what we have to offer patients, and their use appears to be growing to include many if not most of the major inflammatory diseases.?

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