Seeking treatments to delay or prevent onset of rheumatoid arthritis

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Anca Catrina is conducting research into the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis. She wants to understand how the disease starts, and to find new treatments to delay or completely prevent the disease from breaking out. Her research also focuses on identifying healthy people with an elevated risk of getting the disease.

Anca Catrina, foto: Creo Media Group. Much is still unknown about the mechanisms that result in somebody being affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Anca Catrina’s research focuses on understanding more of this process, and on finding methods for early identification and treatment of people at high risk of getting the disease. 

“We have advanced a little along the road to understanding the early course of the disease,” Anca Catrina says.

“It has been known for some time that a large majority of the people who are affected by rheumatism have specific antibodies in their blood several years before the disease breaks out. We have shown that in the first stage of the disease, these antibodies increase the breakdown of bone tissue. We have also identified a signal molecule which we believe could be the cause of this bone loss.” 

Now Anca Catrina’s research group is preparing clinical trials to see whether established drugs (currently used to treat osteoporosis) can prevent progression to rheumatoid arthritis in people who have the early stage of the disease. The group is also conducting research into new candidate drugs that could block the inflam-matory signalling molecules that results in bone loss. 

Another of Anca Catrina’s research tracks concerns identi-fication of people who are at a high risk of later being affected by rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the development of advice and preventive aids directed at this group. This work includes a newly-opened clinic for people at high risk and implementation of new clinical tools (such as new ways for evaluating pain using the questionnaire on the website ontilederna.se).

Anca Catrina  

Professor of Rheumatology at the Department of Medicine, Solna 

Anca Catrina was born in 1971 in Bucharest, Romania, completed medical studies at the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, and was awarded her medical licence in 1996. She has worked at Saint Mary University Hospital, Bucharest, as an Assistant Professor and Specialist in Rheumatology and since 2005 at Karolinska University Hospital, where she is today a Consultant. 

Anca Catrina was awarded her PhD at KI in 2004, and was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2014 and Adjunct Professor in 2016. She has been appointed Head of the Rheumatology Unit at the Department of Medicine, Solna, from September 2017.  On 1 February 2017, Anca Catrina was appointed Professor of Rheumatology at Karolinska Institutet. 

Text: Anders Nilsson, translated from Swedish, first published in “From Cell to Society” 2017.

ProfessorRheumatology