Following the Phase III analysis by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., it was found that around 45 percent of children with active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis were able to reduce their dependence on oral corticosteroids following the treatment with ACZ885 (canakinumab).

It was stated that the effects can be seen within 28 weeks of commencing treatment with ACZ885.

The study findings will be detailed Wednesday at the American College of Rheumatology's Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

The treatment of SJIA is a challenge given our current treatment options. Despite our best efforts, optimal disease control is often times elusive. We still must use steroids in the treatment of these children with SJIA. Steroids help manage many SJIA symptoms, such as fever and inflammation, but doctors try to minimize their use because of the potential negative impact on bones and growth, stated Dr. Daniel Lovell, one of the study investigators and professor of pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Apart from this, the Phase III study also mentioned that patients with SJIA on ACZ885 were nearly three times (0.37 hazard ratio) less likely to suffer a new flare.

This implies that only about 27 percent of the entire ACZ885-treated patients experienced a new flareup while the remaining 75 percent did not.

ACZ885 is a fully human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the the key inflammatory mediator, interleukin-1 beta. The latter plays a key role in a number of diseases including SJIA, which is the most serious form of childhood arthritis and affects less than one child per 100,000.

One of our main goals as physicians, and this applies to all therapies, is to provide patients with treatment options that combine effective control of their disease with a favorable safety profile, making long-term safety data monitoring important, RTT News quoted Dr. Nico Wulffraat, one of the study investigators stating.

The incidence of SJIA is estimated to be less than 1 in 100,000 children. It is called systemic because the inflammation affects the whole body, as well as most of the joints. The condition is characterized by potentially lifelong, recurrent and painful arthritis flares, skin rashes and daily spiking fevers.