A new drug trial has been launched in a number of NHS hospitals across the UK for patients whose rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are not improving with their current treatment.
The National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) is funding the SWITCH trial, led centrally by consultant rheumatologist, Dr Maya H. Buch at Leeds Institute of Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Medicine (LIRMM), University of Leeds and the Leeds Biomedical Research Unit (LMBRU), Chapel Allerton Hospital and the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research (LICTR) at the University of Leeds. The NIHR HTA funds social care and public health research within the NHS that is essential for improving care in public, health and personal social services.
The SWITCH trial is aimed at patients on a current anti-TNF drug, which works by binding to the ‘tumour necrosis factor’, a molecule that leads to inflammation in joints in RA and associated symptoms.
Although several treatment options are available at this stage, current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that patients who do not respond to their first anti-TNF drug should be treated with an alternative biologic drug called rituximab, although some patients may benefit from one of the alternative options available.
Dr Buch explains: “The SWITCH trial will compare rituximab with another licensed drug called abatacept, as well as a number of alternative anti-TNF drugs. All of these therapies have shown evidence of clinical success in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis following failure of an initial anti-TNF, but this is the first head to head comparison to date.”
For more information about the trial and a list of participating hospitals, please visit
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