Although there are a number of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, which have been shown in clinical trials to be effective, not all patients respond well to any particular therapy and some will develop side effects. If it were possible to accurately predict who would and would not respond to a particular drug, therapy could be tailored to the individual patient. There are many factors likely to influence how someone will respond and these are likely to include clinical, serological, psychological and genetic factors.
For the major classes of drugs used in the treatment of rheumatological disorders (Methotrexate, Corticosteroids and anti-TNF agents), clinical factors alone are not particularly helpful in determining drug response. Therefore, there are several programs of work underway to identify genetic predictors of response, with the aim of combining this information ultimately with other factors to produce an algorithm that will predict who will and who won’t respond to a particular treatment.