The topical anakinra medication for rheumatoid arthritis might also help reduce dry eye symptoms.
Dry eye symptoms may be reduced by a rheumatoid arthritis drug. Dry eye disease (DED) can lead to visual disturbances and can potentially cause damage to the ocular surface, negatively affecting one’s quality of life. About nine million Americans live with dry eyes and estimated costs hover around $55 million in direct and indirect costs.
The study conducted by the researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’shospital shows that topical anakinra, which is an approved treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, significantly reduces dry eye symptoms.
Senior author Reza Dana said, “We began looking at the possible therapeutic effects of IL-1Ra over 10 years ago in my laboratory. This clinical trial was a significant milestone in our research. The results clearly show us not only that we can possibly help the millions of people affected by dry eye disease worldwide, but that biologics such as this have the potential to provide targeted therapies for other ocular ailments, as well.”
In the trial taking place over the course of 16 weeks, 75 participants were randomly assigned to different treatments, including the rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Anakinra at 2.5 percent was four times more likely to eliminate corneal staining, which is used as a measurement of dry eye disease. It was also found to significantly reduce dry eye symptoms – in fact, six times more effectively than regular eye ointments.
Dr. Dana concluded, “We have never seen results such as this before in a trial to treat dry eye disease. We possibly have found a safe, well-tolerated eye drop that can treat the underlying cause of dry eye rather than just temporarily mask the symptoms. We are excited about the positive results we saw in the data and with our patients who found relief in their symptoms and were able to return to some of their normal daily activities.”
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