Prevention Of Vascular Damage In Scleroderma With Angiotensin-converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibition PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 27 December 2010 17:21
Great strides have been made in identifying and managing the organ-based complications of  systemic sclerosis (SSc). There is no room for the nihilism towards treating this disease that used to be so prevalent. However, there is still relatively little hard evidence on which to base treatment decisions. Previous trials have been constrained by the low disease prevalence and the difficulty in recruiting sufficient patients especially with disease of recent onset. The results of past trials have often been confounded by the failure to recognize the marked heterogeneity of SSc and the inclusion of patient subsets with widely varying disease expression, course and outcome. It is recognized that progress will only be made in this area with coordinated multicentre studies. As a result, national and international networks of clinicians with expertise in the management of SSc have been formed. In the UK, the Systemic Sclerosis Study Group has established a national scleroderma register and, together with the Scleroderma Special Interest Group of the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR), a multicentre base for therapeutic studies.

As a result of developments in our understanding of the pathogenesis of scleroderma and our ability to subset patients more effectively, a number of rather more rational approaches to treating the disease and its complications are being tested. In parallel with this, considerable progress is being made in developing universally agreed measures of disease activity and severity and in identifying surrogate laboratory markers of disease activity that are relevant to therapeutic studies. These multicentre trials need substantial funding and often do not attract support from the pharmaceutical industry. It was because of the difficulty in financing long-term, multicentre studies in uncommon conditions that the ARCuBSR Clinical Trials Programme was established. The QUINS trial, which is funded by this Programme, is described here as an example of one of several therapeutic protocols being developed by the UK Systemic Sclerosis Study Group that are currently being tested in multicentre trials. Contact details are provided in the appendix for clinicians who are interested in registering patients on the UK Scleroderma Register or participating in this or in the other therapeutic studies.

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