MavrilimumabAn early trial of a new drug called mavrilimumab suggests that it may become a useful new treatment for people with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Despite big steps forward in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in recent years, there are still many people who don’t benefit much from the available treatments, or who improve for a short period before their symptoms get worse again. So the search goes on for new drugs that might help a wider group of people.

Across the four groups taking methotrexate plus mavrilimumab, about 56 in 100 people had met the target reduction in DAS-28, compared with 35 in 100 people taking methotrexate plus placebo. When the researchers broke the figures down between the four groups, though, only the people taking the 30 milligram and 100 milligram doses did significantly better than those taking the placebo. People taking 100 milligrams did the best, with 67 in 100 achieving the target reduction in DAS-28.

The researchers didn’t find any serious side effects related to mavrilimumab. They were particularly interested to see if anyone developed lung problems, as macrophages are known to be important in keeping the lungs healthy. No one taking the drug had lung problems.