VIENNA, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered the rheumatoid arthritis medication adalimumab can also effectively treat uveitis, a rare eye disease.
A study on the effects of the arthritis medication on patients with uveitis was conducted by an international research team led by the Medical University of Vienna. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Adalimumab has long been used to treat rheumatic diseases, and is injected by patients every two weeks during treatment. Because the drug is steroid-free, patients experience fewer side effects, and can use it for a longer period of time.
"We were able to prospectively demonstrate for the very first time that non-infectious uveitis can also be successfully treated with a cortisol-free medication," study author Barisani-Asenbauer said in a press release. "That will significantly improve the management of uveitis patients who have only partially responded to corticosteroids, need a corticosteroid sparing therapy or who are unsuitable for treatment with corticosteroids."
During the study, 217 adults who had active noninfectious intermediate uveitis, posterior uveitis, or panuveitis were randomly administered adalimumab in a 1:1 ratio matched by a placebo. Researchers observed patients who received the drug were less likely than those in the placebo group to experience treatment failure.
Uveitis is a category of inflammatory diseases that produces swelling and damage in eye tissues. If left untreated, it can slightly reduce vision or lead to severe vision loss. According to the National Eye Institute, the disease can be caused by an attack from the body's own immune system, bruising, toxins, infections, or tumors within the eye or other parts of the body.