Tocilizumab (Actemra) Approved for the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis by US FDA
This is a new biological agent for treatment of autoimmune disease. The target of action is unique in that it suppresses interleukin 6 (IL-6). Existing medications target TNF (tumour necrosis factor) or the B cell.
All of these agents are in concept "magic bullets" as they work at very specific sites in the immune system. This reduces the chances of side effects.
Actemra is given as intravenous infusion once a month. Gleneagles Hospital, with A/Prof Leong as Principal Investigator, is one of the sites used in the international multicentre study. When approved by the local authorities, it will be another option for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.