The U.S. patent on Enbrel (etanercept) expires in 2012. While biologics are too complex for there to be generic versions when their patents expire, the FDA is currently working on the question of “biosimilar” products — cheaper biologics that achieve roughly the same goals. (Previously: Generic Versions of Biologics?)
Arthritis Today reports on a new study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, that found that ankylosing spondylitis increases the risk of heart disease and stroke “by as much as 25 to 60 percent, depending on the cardiovascular or cerebrovascular condition. It also found that the increased risk was greatest for younger — age 20 to 39 years — AS patients.”
Most people with AS have the HLA-B27 antigen, but why having that gene makes us more predisposed to AS has so far been unknown. A study published in Nature Genetics tries to answer this question: as the press release explains, “reported a link between a gene producing protein, ERAP1, and HLA-B27. For example, ERAP1 was associated with ankylosing spondylitis in HLA-B27 positive patients; whereas, there was no association between ERAP1 and AS in HLA-B27 negative patients.” Which I can’t pretend to understand, but I get the gist that this may be a step toward figuring out how AS works.