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Nov 09
Jeff Stark, MD, Head of Immunology Medical Affairs at UCB
Advancing Rheumatic Disease Treatment

Even with significant advancements in the field of rheumatology, people living with rheumatic conditions and their healthcare teams face a unique set of challenges when it comes to treating these diseases. 

“As a company, we are committed to continuing to identify and address the persistent unmet needs facing people impacted by rheumatic diseases with the goal of helping more people achieve optimal treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Jeff Stark, Head of Medical Immunology, UCB U.S.

From joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue to peripheral and spinal inflammation, living with chronic inflammatory impacts a person’s ability to live their best life1,2,3,4  While there are existing treatments for conditions like psoriatic arthritis (PsA), non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), many patients still do not experience optimal disease outcomes.5 Others experience worsening of symptoms or their disease may even continue to progress.6,7,8,9,10

“It is important to consider how, as an industry, we can develop medicines that will target more impactful outcomes for patients,” said Stark. “This starts in clinical trials.”

To track changes in rheumatic disease during clinical trials, researchers use outcome measures like ACR20, which represents the percentage each patient’s disease symptoms and manifestation has improved since entering the trial. ACR20 is accepted in the scientific community as the minimum measure of improvement for a clinical trial to be deemed a success. But, patients achieving a value of ACR50, or 50% improvement in symptoms and disease, are more likely to indicate a meaningful change that equates to long-term improvement in the management of joint disease.  

“We need to see more clinical trials across the industry routinely using more stringent outcome measures of PsA and axSpA disease activity to raise the bar in helping more patients achieve optimal disease outcome goals,” said Stark “At UCB, we challenge accepted beliefs and boundaries to make a meaningful difference to people’s health and to the wellbeing of the society in which we live.”

In rheumatology, UCB is exploring innovative solutions for rheumatic diseases using stringent clinical trial endpoints to better address the needs of patients and ultimately change the future of immunology care.

Stay tuned for updates from the upcoming American College of Rheumatology Convergence from November 10-15 in San Diego, where UCB will present 25 abstracts across several rheumatic conditions.

To learn more about Rheumatology in the U.S., click here.


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  1. Furst DE and Louie JA. Targeting inflammatory pathways in axial spondyloarthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2019;21(1):135.
  2. Silvagni E, et al. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:672515.
  3. Axial Spondyloarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/ankylosing-spondylitis. Accessed July 2023.
  4. Psoriatic Arthritis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354076. Accessed July 2023.
  5. Smolen JS, Siebert S, Korotaeva TV, et al. Effectiveness of IL-12/23 inhibition (ustekinumab) versus tumour necrosis factor inhibition in psoriatic arthritis: observational PsABio study results. Ann Rheum Dis. 2021;80(11):1419-1428
  6. Michelsen B, Lindström U, Codreanu C, et al. Drug retention, inactive disease and response rates in 1860 patients with axial spondyloarthritis initiating secukinumab treatment: routine care data from 13 registries in the EuroSpA collaboration. RMD Open. 2020;6(3) doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2020-001280
  7. Ørnbjerg LM, Brahe CH, Askling J, et al. Treatment response and drug retention rates in 24 195 biologic-naïve patients with axial spondyloarthritis initiating TNFi treatment: routine care data from 12 registries in the EuroSpA collaboration. Ann Rheum Dis. 2019;78(11):1536-1544. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-215427
  8. Michelena X, Zhao SS, Dubash S, et al. Similar biologic drug response regardless of radiographic status in axial spondyloarthritis: data from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register in Ankylosing Spondylitis registry. Rheumatology. 2021;60(12):5795-5800. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keab070
  9. Smolen JS, Siebert S, Korotaeva TV, et al. Effectiveness of IL-12/23 inhibition (ustekinumab) versus tumour necrosis factor inhibition in psoriatic arthritis: observational PsABio study results. Ann Rheum Dis. 2021;80(11):1419-1428
  10. Karmacharya P, Chakradhar R, Ogdie A. The epidemiology of psoriatic arthritis: a literature review. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2021;35(2):101692
  11. Clinical Review Report: Ixekizumab. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health. 2018. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK540005/ (accessed August 2022).