Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
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Overexpression of cytokines in inflamed joints plays an important role in joint inflammation and in damage to articular tissue. Biological agents aimed at specifically antagonising tumour necrosis factor (TNF) are effective in the treatment of adult rheumatoid arthritis. A recent trial of etanercept, a genetically engineered fusion protein consisting of the Fc domain of human IgGl and the TNF receptor p75, has demonstrated that this agent is also well tolerated and effective in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Etanercept offers a promising new alternative for patients with JIA who have persistently active arthritis despite treatment with methotrexate. Further studies are needed to clarify whether etanercept is equally effective in the various onset types of JIA (oligoarthritis, polyarthritis and systemic arthritis), whether it can modify disease progression and whether it can be administered safely for long periods of time to children.
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