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A monthly injection could offer new hope to many arthritis sufferers, stopping the crippling disease in its tracks.
The antibody drug tocilizumab can halt the disease for around half of all sufferers and is particularly effective if administered in the early stages of the disease.
Nothing can be done to reverse the damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the new injection can prevent it from getting any worse.
Professor Paul Emery from the University of Leeds said: "Results of this pivotal study convincingly demonstrate that tocilizumab can effectively and rapidly diminish the painful and debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
According to study results published in the September 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, the use of biologic drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma. No other malignancy was associated with the use of biologic drugs.