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Latest Research Studies into PMR and GCA

After many years in the shadows, Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) are at last coming into the spotlight of research interest among rheumatologists and other scientists. It is part of the mission of PMRGCAuk to encourage more research, because there are still more gaps than there is research-based knowledge about these conditions.  There is so much we still need to learn about what causes these illnesses, what is happening in the body, and what treatments are appropriate. That’s before we even start thinking about prevention or cure.

Things are improving. For example, in 2013 GCA was included in a list of research priorities for sight research by Fight for Sight, the charity supporting research into eye diseases and sight loss. Future decisions about funding research will be on the basis of these priorities, so it is a hugely important step forward.

In November 2013 the second international symposium on PMR and GCA was held in Southend. It brought together experts from around the world who shared their ideas for research. These include studies of medications such as methotrexate (MTX) as a ‘steroid-sparing agent’ in treating complex or difficult cases of PMR, and clinical trials of tocilizumab (TCZ) for similar purposes in GCA.

From time to time there are opportunities for patients to become involved in research studies, and occasionally we publicise these. There are strict rules governing research. Enrolment into research projects is a voluntary process, and you would be fully informed about any project so you can make an informed choice whether you want to take part or not. You would never have research performed on you without your full knowledge and consent.

Working groups of rheumatologists, general practitioners and other experts (with patient reps involved) are currently working on new or revised sets of guidelines for clinicians for the diagnosis and management of both PMR and GCA. We will include updates on these developments in our newsletters and on our research pages on PMR and GCA.

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