Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Because of rheumatoid arthritis, Lynda Weinel was limited in what she could do.
“My husband had to take me to the doctor’s because I couldn’t raise my arms up to hold the steering wheel,” says the 70-year-old Cranberry woman.
She couldn’t play her favorite games or work in her garden.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term painful condition where the body attacks its own joint tissue.
Lynda went to a specialist. “When I went to her, I told her I didn’t want to live anymore. If you can’t fix me, give me something that’s going to kill me because I don’t want to live like this.”
Typically it’s treated with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, and other shots and IVs specifically for rheumatoid arthritis. Lynda tried all of these.
“The medicine worked for so long, and then, for some reason, the body just decided that it wasn’t going to work anymore,” she says.
Her doctors thought she would be good for a five-year clinical trial looking at a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors — medicines that block the chemical signals the body uses when there’s inflammation.
Specifically, they’re studying one called fos-d (fostimatinab).
“In the study, there was still a chance, 1/3 of a chance she could be on a placebo,” says Dr. Angela Stupi, a rheumatologist at Allegheny General Hospital.
“If at a certain point in the study – usually about 24 weeks – if there is no response, then they go into an extension of the study where they are definitely placed on drug,” she continued.
“We would like to see an effective drug that doesn’t have much in the way of side effects.”
At higher doses, the drug can cause high blood pressure. Other possible side effects include diarrhea, infections and liver problems.
Lynda has been in the study for two years, and so far, so good. So good in fact, she’s back to life as usual.
“I cut grass, I do flowers, I do laundry, I take care of my house as well as I can,” says Lynda.
The study recruited nearly a thousand patients. Enrollment is now closed. Dr. Stupi says results should be expected within the year.