In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with rheumatologist Dr. Maggie Cadet, we discuss recent advancements in rheumatoid arthritis research. We also discuss how to improve the inclusion of diverse participants and diverse leadership in arthritis clinical trials.
Is there any research that excites you or that you think is important for physicians to know related to the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?
Dr. Maggie Cadet:
“Right now, there are so many studies looking at specific cytokines to be targeted with treatment. For example, we have specific JAK inhibitors, an IL-6 inhibitor, and TNF-a, which has been around for a while. So, more and more cytokines are being targeted.
In terms of diagnosis, one of the modalities that really excites me is Vectra testing. Sometimes, our patients with rheumatologic conditions may feel great, have minimal symptoms, and their inflammation marker may be borderline or a little high. With these patients, it can be hard to tell whether their disease is controlled. Vectra assays look at a profile of cytokines and assess whether a patient has mild, moderate, or severe disease activity.
So, I’m hoping more studies will utilize Vectra assays and examine the relationship in inflammation activity among these assays, clinical data, and serological data.”
How do you think we can increase recruitment and enrollment of diverse groups in arthritis clinical trials?
Dr. Maggie Cadet:
“I think the way to increase diverse participation in clinical trials is to build trust with minority patients. A lot of minority populations distrust the healthcare system because of past harms they have experienced from it. Such instances include the Tuskegee syphilis study, and many others, where healthcare professionals intentionally harmed patients.
Once we establish trust and reassure patients that we are here to help them and improve their health outcomes, I think they will be more willing to participate.
I also think it’s important to have investigators that look like the minority populations we hope to include in clinical research. Patients want to see themselves mirrored in their physicians. Including minority leadership in these trials will give patients the confidence to participate and feel comfortable doing so.
It’s not that one ethnic group of physicians is better than the other. It’s really about what makes patients feel comfortable enough to participate in clinical trials. And it is important to have minority populations in these studies, to better reflect the general population of patients with arthritis and ensure drug effectiveness.”
Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.