Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating chronic auto-immune disease that affects millions of people worldwide and leads to pain, joint damage and malformation. B-cell depletion using rituximab (RTX) can be highly effective in reducing disease activity but does not benefit ~50% of patients, who will continue to receive ineffective and expensive treatment (>€6500 per dose) while their RA develops. There is a strong need to make predictions on RTX success before start of therapy, but no molecular diagnostic tools are available for this. The main goal of TUXIRA is to develop an accurate and easy-to-use test for the identification of RA patients that will not benefit from RTX . In previous studies, partner VUmc discovered that the combined expression levels of 15 type I interferon response genes predict RTX response. TUXIRA will deliver a kit-based RT-PCR assay with high specificity/sensitivity based on the so-called IFN signature, together with a unique decision-supporting IT platform with online interface to allow easy analysis of complex data sets. By enabling personalised design of RA treatment strategies, we will reduce costs associated with unnecessary RTX administration and improve patient health outcomes.
Dept Rheumatology, VUmc, Stichting VU-VUmc