Ankylosing Spondylitis: There is hope
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects one out of hundred citizens of the western world. It’s characterized by inflammation and fusion of the spine starting with the sacroiliac joints and finishing in the cervical vertebras. Other big joints such as hips, shoulders, elbows and knees are usually affected. The HLA-b27 gene is no longer important for the diagnosis because of the increase in the number of sufferers that don’t have it and still experience the symptoms of the same disease. AS can manifest itself as inflammation of the uvea (uveitis) and it’s strongly related to Crohn disease. Current treatment depends of the disease activity, varying between NSAIDS, DMARDS and biologic treatment, this last one being a huge step forward in the treatment, slowing the progress of the disease and improving notoriously patient’s quality of life. Still, almost 40% of the patients don’t react to antiTNF therapy and can’t reach remission. Those that are able to achieve this, have to cope with serious side effects that come with these drugs. Some of the most feared adverse reactions to biologic drugs are the increased risk of cancer and development of another autoimmune diseases (there are case reports of patients developing multiple sclerosis, lupus and psoriasis after the first injections). Therefore, even knowing that the quality of life of the average AS patient is better nowadays than it was 20 years ago, we shouldn’t be satisfied because patients depend on the dispensation of expensive drugs, chronic pharmacologic therapy, life threatening side effects and, even worse, a lot of them are still suffering day after day.