In February 2018 the ASCARA study (full title: Abatacept to Silence anti-Citrullinated protein Antibody-expressing B-cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis) was approved by the local Medical Ethical Committee of Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands.
The majority of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients harbour auto-antibodies against citrullinated protein antigens (ACPA). ACPA are highly disease specific and used as bio-markers to diagnose RA. Furthermore, the presence of ACPA associates with destruction of joints, the pathological hallmark of RA. ACPA are produced by B-cells, which are important cells of the immune system. The aim of this study is to investigate if abatacept can reverse the activated, proliferative phenotype of ACPA-expressing B-cells. During the lifespan of the RTCure project, 46 RA patients will be included in this open-label, randomized, two-arm clinical study.