Study shows use of EpiSwitch blood test can aid in treatment decision for rheumatoid arthritis

X-ray of the hand in rheumatoid arthritis
MTX is a primary treatment for new-onset rheumatoid arthritis. (Wikimedia Commons)

A study using Oxford BioDynamics’ EpiSwitch showed the blood test that looks for epigenetic biomarkers can help identify an inadequate response to using methotrexate (MTX) in treating early rheumatoid arthritis.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, looked into whether the differences in genomic architecture represented by a chromosome conformation signature (CCS) in blood taken from people with early rheumatoid arthritis before they were administered methotrexate to see what the likelihood was that they would respond to such first-line disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). 

MTX is a primary treatment for new-onset rheumatoid arthritis; however, many patients do not respond to the therapy that can take at least six months for an indication of its effectiveness. In the meantime, substantial damage due to inflammation can occur during that timeframe, resulting in future disability and loss of function.

Results of the study “successfully showed that a CCS found in the blood samples” using the EpiSwitch was able to identify “with a high degree of accuracy” patients who wouldn’t respond well to MTX.

“This has been one of the main challenges in rheumatoid arthritis management for over two decades,” Alexandre Akoulitchev, chief scientific officer of Oxford BioDynamics, said in a statement. “Our results provide a proof of principle that stratification of response to MTX is possible and offers the potential to provide alternative treatments for nonresponders to MTX earlier in the course of the disease to improve clinical outcomes.”

Oxford BioDynamics, Pfizer, and the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow collaborated on the study.