News in brief: Introducing the new APLAR president; Tocilizumab supply improving; Gout-atherosclerosis links debunked

Thursday, 20 Jan 2022


Introducing the new APLAR president

The Asia-Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR) has officially welcomed new President, Professor Danda Debashish, of India.

Professor Debashish did his advanced rheumatology training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and Flinders Medical Centre, and is now professor of rheumatology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu. His special areas of interest include Takayasu arteritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, spondyloarthritis,  lupus and infection-related rheumatism.

In his introductory message Professor Debashish said he wanted to welcome all rheumatology clinicians and researchers in the Asia-Pacific to attend the APLAR 2022 meeting that will be held as an in-person event from 5 – 9 December 2022 in Hong Kong.


Tocilizumab supply improving

Shortages of tocilizumab (Actemra) in Australia are expected to ease as shipments arrive in the country,  but supply disruptions to some products will continue beyond January 2022, the TGA has announced.

In an update posted on 22 December, the TGA said a small amount of 400mg IV tocilizumab was arriving in Australia in late December and it had been advised by manufacturer Roche Australia and the Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) that the use of IV tocilizumab (Actemra) in some patient groups could be increased.

The TGA said shortages of subcutaneous tocilizumab would ease as normal supply gradually resumed in early 2022 but it warned that access to either subcutaneous presentations (ACTPen and pre-filled syringe) may still fluctuate.

“As supply is still unstable, in line with advice from the ARA, it is recommended that no new patients are initiated on subcutaneous tocilizumab at this time unless alternate therapy is not appropriate,” it advised.


Gout-atherosclerosis links debunked

A hypothesis that gout patients have urate crystal deposition in atherosclerotic plaques has been dispelled by a New Zealand study that used dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) imaging to look for monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in tissue from cadaveric donors with a history of gout.

Professor Nicola Dalbeth and colleagues at Auckland University report that DECT showed MSU clearly evident in the tophaceous joints of six donor cadavers but not evident in calcified vascular tissue. The lack of MSU in atherosclerotic plaques was confirmed with polarizing light microscopy.

Writing in Arthritis and Rheumatology, Professor Dalbeth said recent DECT studies showing colour-coded material consistent with MSU in calcified vessels of people with gout likely did not represent true MSU crystal deposition but may have been artifacts during live imaging.

 

 

 

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