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Meeting report (part 3): a survey of new SLE treatment modalities

The two-day international meeting for rheumatologists at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden was actually packed with oral presentations providing a lot of information on fairly all fields a rheumatologist might be interested in. Actually too much to report in a concise matter in this weblog, but I will conclude my third and fourth (to follow) part of this meeting report with a summary of the oral presentations on SLE treatment and classification of myopathies.

SLE: the ongoing search for new treatment modalities
Iva Gunarsson (photo) came with a talk that provided a survey of current treatment options for SLE and the difficulties encountered in clinical trials. Very similar to developments in the treatment of inflammatory myopathies, promising case reports on succesfull treatment with new monoclonal antibody agents like e.g. (amongst others) rituximab could not be confirmed with convincing data from double-blinded placebo controlled studies. As a result -untill the recent approval of belimumab as a new treatment modality in SLE-, for decades SLE has mainly been treated by trial-and-error making use of conventional disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and corticsteroids. As also was pointed out by several speakers during the EULAR 2011 meeting in London, UK, this does not necessarily mean that other biologics than belimumab that have been inevstigated in SLE are of no value in daily clinical practice. Study designs with regard to study population, disease activity definition as well as follow-up duration may have had quite some influence on the final findings in previous trials. In an era of highly advocated evidence-based medicine there may be a risk that -following suboptimal study designs- some previously tested drugs with potential have been put aside too rigourously, perhaps we will never know. Read more…

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