The annual European Congress of Rheumatology: Recent advances in the treatment of rheumatic diseases

Bernhard Hellmich, Wolfgang L. Gross


The topics discussed at this conference covered many aspects of the pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, from the search of new therapeutic targets and evaluation of new diagnostic techniques to preclinical and clinical development of novel therapies. This contribution focuses primarily on two issues that dominated this meeting. First, a number of interesting studies presented during this conference examined the possible value of novel selective therapies directed against recently identified targets of the immune system including cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-15) and inflammatory cells, such as B cells, CD4+ T cells or memory/effector T cells. Second, clinical experience with newer anti-inflammatory treatments, such as TNF-α-blocking agents or leflunomide, is growing judging by the number of reports of their use in clinical practice and new indications. Several studies presented at this meeting examined the value of currently licensed drugs in new indications, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis, or studied new combinations of drugs, for example, a combination of different biological treatments (e.g., anakinra, etanercept), in already established indications. Interestingly, the results of these studies were not always as expected, thus increasing the importance of these particular trials. The growing experience with some of these novel therapies clarify the role of these treatments in particular forms of rheumatic diseases and will help to develop guidelines for the use of these sometimes powerful but also possibly harmful agents in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1713-1719
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 10.2003

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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