Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic autoimmune condition — it causes the immune system to attack joints and, sometimes, other tissues. PsA usually develops in people who already have the skin condition psoriasis.
“As we see newer epidemiology studies, we’re beginning to realize that the disease is more common than we thought, historically,” Dr. Philip Mease, a clinical professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Director of Rheumatology Research at Swedish Medical Center, in Seattle, told Medical News Today.
A person with PsA may develop inflammation in any joint. The inflammation may also occur where tendons or ligaments attach to bones, an issue that doctors call enthesitis. In addition, PsA can affect the skin, nails, or both.
To help reduce the disease activity and slow the progression of PsA, rheumatologists prescribe medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Historically, methotrexate was often the DMARD of choice. It is a traditional drug that targets the entire immune system. In recent years, however, biologic DMARDs have played an increasing role in PsA treatment.
Biologics are a type of targeted drug made from genetically engineered proteins. They reduce inflammation by blocking the action of specific proteins or cells in the immune system.
This article provides an overview of the available biologics that can help treat PsA. It also describes the strategies that doctors may use to manage the risk of side effects.