As Associate Director of Scientific Affairs, my role at Crescendo Bioscience is to collaborate with other scientists at academic institutions in Europe and the US to advance the field of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One of the really enjoyable parts of my job is being able to attend scientific meetings, such as the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Annual Congress I attended from June 8-11, at the ExCel Center in east London, UK, at the time of the Queen’s birthday celebration and before the BREXIT vote.
Along with the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) annual meeting, which will take place November 11 – 16 in Washington, D.C., EULAR is one of the most important international medical meetings on rheumatic diseases and also includes musculoskeletal diseases. EULAR is an umbrella organization for more than 45 scientific member societies and many other patient and healthcare provider organizations. More than 16,000 attendees come from 120 countries to participate. It is an important meeting for our community and a valuable way for Crescendo to learn and share so that we can continue to grow and better serve the RA community.
This year, three studies highlighting the use of Vectra® DA were presented as posters at the EULAR meeting, two of which I was honored to be a co-author. All three studies focused on how the Vectra blood test can inform management of patients in their treatment journey. The HONOR study, which looked at patients taking a biologic and in remission for at least six months, found that the Vectra test might help to predict sustained remission for those patients who discontinue their biologic treatment. The study was conducted under the supervision and recommendation of the patients’ treating physicians.
The OPERA study, which looked at treatment response in patients who have just been diagnosed with RA, showed that Vectra scores decreased significantly with treatment and how changes in patients’ Vectra scores correlate with future changes in clinical disease activity measures. The third poster was based on analyses of the SWEFOT study and showed how Vectra test scores might be able to help physicians identify a subset of patients as potential candidates for DMARD intensification as a second-line therapy.
All of these studies offer valuable information about how treatment might be guided in RA patients and were exciting news for treating physicians and patient organizations in attendance.
In fact, in an annual session known as “Powerful or Powderpuff,” this year’s topic focused on the use of biomarkers versus clinical assessment to evaluate disease activity. Dr. Joseph Smolen spoke on behalf of clinical assessment and Professor Ronald F. van Vollenhoven on behalf of biomarkers. Although biomarkers could include imaging, Professor van Vollenhoven’s presentation focused exclusively on the Vectra blood test. He pointed out that one role of biomarkers is to offer information beyond what can be learned through clinical assessment and that additional information at times might differ from typical clinical assessment results. We welcome this kind of debate because these discussions help the entire scientific community develop a better understanding of the value of tools such as Vectra.
In addition to presenting and attending scientific sessions, my colleagues and I also met with many investigators from around the world involved in research activities. We spoke about the work they are doing and investigate possibilities for collaboration incorporating the Vectra test into studies they are conducting. We forged new relationships and took an opportunity to educate those involved in patient care as well on the value of Vectra as a blood test for RA at our exhibit booth in addition to providing information about Vectra.
Other topics of great interest during the meeting were biosimilars in RA and other rheumatic diseases, new therapies, and classes of therapies for the spondyloarthropathies.