Arthritis discovery

The use of steroids could benefit thousands of arthritis sufferers, according to the results of an Pounds 85,000 research and clinical trial programme at Bristol University.

In the 1950s, high doses of steroids were used to treat the symptoms of advanced rheumatoid arthritis. This approach was abandoned because dangerous side-effects emerged.

But John Kirwan of Bristol University's Rheumatology Unit was convinced that low doses of corticosteroids could be effective.

In partnership with Margaret Byron of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, he developed a low-dose strategy and began clinical trials with 128 volunteer patients. Half were given the daily steroid pill, with the remainder receiving a placebo.

After it had been monitored for two years, it emerged that those on the low dose of corticosteroids had less bone and tissue damage. They also found that the underlying disease had been reduced.

"The exciting thing about the result is that we now have the hope of controlling the disease long term," he said. The study was financed by the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Featured Jobs

Academic Partnership Manager LONDON SOUTH BANK UNIVERSITY

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

Inspired by previous movement in 1960s, PhD students say that ‘science is not neutral’ and urge scientists to confront their assumptions