Ten Topics in Rheumatology

The Lebanese Society of Rheumatology (LSR) hosted for the first time in the Middle East the “Ten Topics in Rheumatology” meeting under the leadership of Professor Graham Hughes and his team. The congress took place at Le Bristol hotel in Beirut and was inaugurated by the Minister of Public Health Dr. Mohamad Jawad Khalifeh and attended by local and regional Rheumatologists along with international speakers and journalists.

Parallel to the two day congress Hoffmann–La Roche with the LSR organized a media induction session providing the latest updates and breakthroughs on new medical advances especially in lupus, connective tissue diseases. New data were announced demonstrating the ability of personalized healthcare to impact treatment decisions, therefore improving the patients’ quality of life.

Personalized healthcare is based on the observation that patients with the same medical condition react to treatment in different ways. The diagnosis of the disease profile and other individual characteristics will impact the way that drugs work, and treating all patients diagnosed with a certain disease with a “one size fits all” approach disregards those differences.

“In the past, it has been difficult to predict which patients will benefit most from a particular treatment. Therefore, the challenge faced by physicians is that many of these patients cycle through several types of treatment before achieving the optimum individual response”, said Professor Imad Uthman, President of the Lebanese Society of Rheumatology. “If physicians can predict which patients are likely to have the best treatment outcome, then these patients can be offered this option early enough to gain maximum benefit in terms of symptom reduction and prevention of joint damage in case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients for example”, Uthman added.

“Biomarkers can help us identify RA patients that will have a good response to treatments such as with rituximab. This has positive implications in terms of clinical practice. By treating patients with the best option for their disease, we can bring RA under control more rapidly and preserve function, reduce pain and maintain higher quality of life for patients”, said Dr. Shouvik Dass, Leeds University, UK.

Professor Uthman ended the session by saying: “A major goal of treating a person with RA is to help them reach remission, the point when all or most of the symptoms of the disease have gone away and further damage to the joints has stopped. Following positive results from a number of large international clinical trials, we believe the goal of remission can now be achieved.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common forms of autoimmune disease, affecting more than 21 million people worldwide. This progressive, systemic autoimmune disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of multiple joints and causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Over time, RA can result in loss of joint function due to the destruction of bone and cartilage and lead to progressive disability.