The NORD-STAR clinical trial will provide extremely valuable information on the treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis. The study aims to find out, which is the most effective treatment strategy in early rheumatoid arthritis. As the first trial ever it will compare four different treatment modalities head-to-head.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 150,000 individuals in the Nordic countries. Rheumatic diseases have a large economic and social impact on the Nordic societies, and musculoskeletal diseases are number two responsible for long-term disability.
The disease is characterized by inflamed, swollen and tender joints, fatigue, loss of function (e.g. difficulty in getting dressed, eat, work) and destruction of joints. Many patients cannot perform everyday activities, and life expectancy is reduced with approximately 10 years. Therefore, it is a disease with big impact on the patients as well as on society. Currently, it is a big challenge for the rheumatologists to find the proper treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The NORD-STAR project is an innovative, randomized, controlled trial, which will include 800 patients with recent-onset, treatment-naive rheumatoid arthritis. So many patients cannot be recruited within a reasonable time frame from any of the Nordic countries alone. Therefore the trial has been set up as a Nordic collaborative effort led by researchers from in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The researchers have considerable expertise in this research area. The project is already running in Sweden and Finland, where 115 patients have been included so far. The researchers are now ready to initiate patient recruitment in Denmark, Norway and Iceland as well.
The trial will inform clinicians for years and possible decades to come on the optimal way to treat patients with this disease both with a view to the individual patient's well-being and the projected effects for society at large.
In addition, the project will throw light upon an aspect of treatment that has been largely unrecognized so far, which is the question of how to best taper treatment in patients, who respond well to treatment and go into remission.
Finally, the researchers expect to identify molecules in the blood that can identify patients who will benefit best from the different treatments and thereby prevent ineffective treatments and develop a more personalized medication in rheumatoid arthritis.