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Developments in the scientific and clinical understanding of the spondyloarthritides.

Major advances have been achieved over the last 10 years both in the clinical and scientific understanding of the spondyloarthritides (SpA), which can be separated in predominantly axial and predominantly peripheral SpA. The clinical progress includes the development of classification criteria, strategies for early diagnosis, definition of outcome criteria for clinical studies, and the conduction of a series of clinical studies with a focus on tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. The proven high efficacy of TNF blocker treatment has meant a breakthrough for SpA patients, who until recently had only quite limited treatment options. More and more data have accumulated over recent years in regard to long-term efficacy and safety, prediction of response, and the relevance of extrarheumatic manifestations such as uveitis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease for treatment decisions with TNF blockers. A better understanding of the interaction of the immune system and inflammation with bone degradation/new bone formation is crucial for the development of optimal treatment strategies to prevent structural damage. Recent results from genetic studies could show that, besides HLA-B27, the interleukin-23 receptor and the ARTS1 enzyme are associated with ankylosing spondylitis. Only when the exact pathogenesis is clarified will a curative treatment be possible.

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