Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Delayed or Prevented?

CU Anschutz researchers home in on pre-RA markers, hoping to find treatments that can halt the disease

Many stages occur on the path to getting rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks the body, especially the joints. If providers could spot the predictive biomarkers and intervene early enough, there is a strong likelihood they could delay, or even prevent, RA from developing.

Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, focuses his research on identifying people who are at risk of RA while they are in an asymptomatic phase.

In the United States, 1% of the population, or about 3 million people, have rheumatoid arthritis, costing over $40 billion annually.

“RA is a good disease to think about preventing for a variety of reasons but especially because we have markers that are quite good at predicting who may get it in the future, and because once you get it, it lasts forever,” Deane said. “Blocking it from the beginning could save a lot of personal suffering and expense.”

In the following Q&A, Deane explains the progress that’s being made in RA research and how studies on all autoimmune diseases across the CU Anschutz Medical Campus can inform each other.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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