, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 330-336

Use of biologics in the treatment of childhood rheumatic diseases

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Over the last two decades, progression in the knowledge of molecular biologic techniques has led to a better understanding of immunopathogenesis and identification of several cytokines, which propagate chronic arthritis in both adult and pediatric patients. A number of biologic agents have been developed in targeting different immune markers or mediators with the hope that they may help in controlling the inflammation in the group of patients who are resistant to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and may alter the natural history of the diseases. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a is the first to be targeted and its antagonists have been approved. Other biologic agents targeting different markers/mediators have followed and have been tested in clinical trials especially in adult rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Experiences in pediatric use are limited and agents proved to be effective in adult RA are not always transferred the same efficacy in different subtypes of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). It is reasonable to see the efficacy, and more importantly the safety profiles of each agent before the decision is made to use them in children. This article reviews the published and anecdotal reports of biologic agents that have been used in children with JIA and also focuses on the potential use of other biologic agents in JIA that have been used in trials to combat adult RA.