A new drug being developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may also be effective against myasthenia gravis (MG), according to early research.
The drug, baricitinib, is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. JAK inhibitors are a type of biologic, a newer class of drugs used to treat RA.
RA is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. MG is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness.
In a small study, researchers found that four weeks of treatment with baricitinib improved muscle strength, function, and quality of life in people with MG.
The study was published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
“This is the first study to show that a JAK inhibitor can improve MG,” said study author Dr. Jill Buyon, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
“The results are very encouraging and suggest that this class of drugs may offer a new way to treat this disease,” she said.
MG affects about 20,000 people in the United States. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body’s immune system attacks the muscles that control the movement of the eye and eyelid, and the muscles that control chewing, swallowing, and speaking.
Symptoms of MG include muscle weakness, fatigue, and difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing.
There is no cure for MG, but treatments are available to help control the symptoms.
Baricitinib is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of either RA or MG.
The new study included 23 people with MG. All of the participants had tried at least two other MG treatments without success.
The participants were randomly assigned to receive either baricitinib or a placebo for four weeks.
Those who received baricitinib had improvements in muscle strength, function, and quality of life.
There were also fewer MG exacerbations, or flares, in the baricitinib group.
The side effects of baricitinib were similar to those seen in other studies of the drug in people with RA.
The most common side effects were upper respiratory tract infections, headache, and high blood pressure.
“This study provides encouraging evidence that baricitinib may be an effective treatment for myasthenia gravis, with a benefit-risk profile that is acceptable for this population,” Dr. Buyon said.
“The safety and efficacy of baricitinib in MG warrant further study in a larger clinical trial,” she said.
A drug approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis has shown potential in reducing the symptoms of myasthenia, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Neurology, looked at the use of tocilizumab in patients with myasthenia.
Myasthenia is a rare neurological disorder that causes muscles to weaken and tire easily.
The study found that tocilizumab was able to improve muscle strength and activity in patients with myasthenia.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Mario Amadori, said that the findings suggest that tocilizumab could be a “promising” treatment option for patients with myasthenia.
Tocilizumab is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The study was a small, uncontrolled trial and further research is needed to confirm the findings.