Toronto study aims to CATCH rheumatoid arthritis early to reduce impact of the disease

    - Results could help to improve standard of care for Canadians living
    with the chronic condition -

    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - An innovative study designed to improve access
to specialized arthritis care is helping local Toronto residents experiencing
the signs and symptoms of inflammatory arthritis gain an early, accurate
diagnosis and treatment for their condition. The clinic at Mount Sinai
Hospital, led by rheumatologist Dr. Vivian Bykerk is one of 17 centres with
more than 500 patients across Canada, participating in the Canadian ArThritis
CoHort (CATCH) study. This study aims to provide better access for
rheumatologist care for patients with early inflammatory arthritis.
    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects nearly 300,000 Canadians(1) and is a
condition that worsens with time when not appropriately managed.
Unfortunately, an accurate diagnosis can be difficult to receive as wait lists
for rheumatologists can be long, and often accommodations can only be made for
urgent referrals of patients who are properly identified as priority cases by
their family physician.(2) Further, many may disregard the early signs and
symptoms of inflammatory arthritis as just a normal part of aging, and not
seek specialized care.
    "When I see patients who have incurred severe joint damage due to
rheumatoid arthritis, it's so disappointing because we know that had the
patient had access to a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan
early in the disease, we could have prevented it," said Dr. Bykerk. "Our goal
with the CATCH study is to obtain clinically meaningful evidence that will
demonstrate the long-term positive impact of an early diagnosis and treatment
plan. Our aim is to change the standard of care for Canadians, and hopefully
prevent the debilitation that has become characteristic of the disease."
    Joint damage occurs early in rheumatoid arthritis, causing a significant
number of patients to quickly develop major disabilities. Nearly 50 per cent
of people living with rheumatoid arthritis will experience work loss due to
their symptoms within 10 years of their diagnosis.(2) However, research has
shown that if appropriate intervention is made in the early stages of the
disease, including treatment with biologics, there is an increased chance of
RA patients achieving clinical remission and improved physical
    More than 500 patients are currently enrolled in the CATCH program in
centres across Canada, including Vancouver, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London,
Hamilton, Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Halifax and St.
    "With the many available treatment options, including biologics, we are
better able to provide the right treatments to put out the fire of rheumatoid
arthritis while it's still just a spark - now we just need to ensure we're
reaching that patient at the right time to help provide better outcomes," said
Dr. Bykerk.

    About Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive and disabling disease,
affecting approximately one out of every hundred Canadians. The disease
commonly develops in early adulthood and affects women three times more often
than men.(4) RA is one of the most destructive types of arthritis, and in many
cases, can progress rapidly. More information about rheumatoid arthritis can
be found at

    About the CATCH Study

    The Canadian ArThritis CoHort Study (CATCH) is a Canadian multicentre
research project developed to enhance the quality of care for patients with
early inflammatory arthritis. With 17 centres participating across the
country, the study will look to determine the most effective treatment
strategies for patients who do not meet criteria for RA, but demonstrate
inflammatory features. Furthermore, CATCH aims to collect patient data in a
large national cohort/registry to answer important clinical questions in daily
early rheumatoid arthritis care.

    More information on the CATCH study and locations can be found at

    (1) Canadian Institute of Health Research - Arthritis brochure
    Accessed November 10 2008.

    (2) Bykerk, Vivian et al, Canadian Consensus Statement on Early Optimal
        Therapy in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; The Journal of the Canadian
        Rheumatology Association; pg. 11 - 13.

    (3) Listing, Joachim et al, Clinical and functional remission: even
        though biologics are superior to conventional DMARDs overall success
        rates remain low - results from RABBIT, the German biologics
        register; Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006;
        Accessed January 30, 2009.

    (4) Arthritis Society of Canada
        Accessed November 22, 2006

For further information:

For further information: Carolyn Santillan/Jennifer Dolan, Edelman,
(416) 979-1120, ext. 351/257,

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