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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

, 17:172

First Online: 19 April 2016Received: 06 November 2015Accepted: 09 April 2016


Rheumatoid arthritis RA is an autoimmune disease which causes significant pain, joint deformity, functional disability. The pathological hallmark of RA is inflammation of the synovium characterized by involvement of inflammatory and resident stromal cells, soluble mediators and signalling pathways leading to irreversible joint destruction. The treatment goal in RA has evolved over the last decade towards a target of disease remission that is achieved in less than a third of patients in clinical trials. The lack of therapeutic response to current treatments is suggestive of alternative drivers of RA pathogenesis that might serve as promising therapeutic targets. There are data to justify the use of synovial tissue in early drug development. Synovial tissue represents an appropriate compartment to be studied in patients with inflammatory arthritis and provides information that is distinct from peripheral blood. Modern techniques have made the procedure much more accessible and ultrasound guided biopsies represent a safe and acceptable option. Advances in analytic technologies allowing transcriptomic level of analysis can provide unique inside to target organ-tissue following the exposure to investigational medicinal product. However, there are still caveats with regard to both the choice of technique and analytical methods. Therefore the significance of synovial biopsy remains to be determined in future clinical trials. The aim of the current debate is to explore the potential for accessing and evaluating synovial tissue in early drug development, to summarize lessons we have learned from clinical trials and to discuss the challenges that have arisen so far.

KeywordsSynovial biopsy Rheumatoid arthritis Drug development AbbreviationsCyTOFCytometry by Time of Flight

DMARDsdisease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs

FIHfirst-in-human trial




IMPinvestigational medicinal product

mAbmonoclonal antibody

PBMCperipheral blood mononuclear cells

MALDI-TOFmatrix assisted laser desorption-ionization combined with time-of-flight detection

RArheumatoid arthritis

RNAribonucleic acid

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Autor: Maria Filkova - Andrew Cope - Tim Mant - James Galloway


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