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Overview of biologic agents and kinase inhibitors in the rheumatic diseases

Daniel E Furst, MD
Section Editor
Peter H Schur, MD
Deputy Editor
Paul L Romain, MD


Advances in molecular biology, immunology, and drug development since the late 1990s have led to a variety of new treatment approaches to rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic inflammatory diseases associated with autoimmunity. The major biologic approaches in clinical use, including both medications made by molecular biologic techniques and small molecule kinase inhibitors, include agents that:

Interfere with cytokine function or production

Inhibit the “second signal” required for T-cell activation

Deplete B cells

An overview of biologic agents, biosimilar medications with near-identity to the original biologic agents, and small molecule kinase inhibitors used in the management of patients with rheumatic disorders is reviewed here. The role of cytokines in the immune system and in rheumatic disorders, the management strategies for individual diseases, and a fuller discussion of the efficacy and safety of these agents are presented in detail separately. (See "Cytokine networks in rheumatic diseases: Implications for therapy" and "Role of cytokines in rheumatic diseases" and "Role of cytokines in the immune system".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 02, 2017.
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