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Research on New Treatment Options

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2022

Research is key to making progress in diagnosing and treating axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA). Researchers are exploring new ways to help people with the condition.

Current research projects are looking at things like:1-3

  • The role of genetics in the development and progression of axSpA
  • New markers that could be used to diagnose the disease earlier
  • Possible new treatments and therapies
  • More personalized treatment approaches based on individual characteristics

New treatment approaches

The available treatments for axSpA are not enough for many people. So, there is a need for new methods to treat the condition. To help bridge the treatment gap, doctors are exploring new therapies such as:1-3

  • Targeting growth factors
  • Blocking parts of the immune response
  • Balancing immune responses
  • Using stem cell therapy
  • Targeting how the blood clots and its relationship to inflammation

The number of new treatments for axSpA is expected to increase over the next few years. New (novel) drugs, increasing awareness of axSpA, and more funding for research have all helped move this along.1

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Biologics are drugs that target specific proteins in the body. Targeting proteins can help reduce inflammation and pain. It also can improve movement. Biologics are made from living organisms to treat various medical conditions, including axSpA. Some biologics are already approved for treating axSpA.4


In late 2021, researchers found a new way that inflammation might happen in the body. They discovered that a protein called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) plays a role in inflammation. Doctors are not yet sure how MIF may be involved in axSpA. But this discovery may lead to new treatments in the future.1

Gene therapy

Gene therapy is a new way to treat diseases. It uses technology to target the genetic causes of disease. It may be able to treat axSpA by targeting certain genes connected to the condition.3

Gene therapy involves adding healthy genes to cells or turning off genes that are not working. This could help reduce inflammation and pain. Doctors hope this approach can be used to provide better outcomes for people with axSpA.3

Genes are not the only factor in axSpA, so this approach could be used with other treatments to achieve better results. Gene therapy may become an effective treatment for axSpA in the future.1,3

Other treatment challenges

Despite recent advances in treatments and therapies, there are still some challenges in treating axSpA. These include:5

  • Unknown long-term safety of drugs
  • High cost of treatments
  • Difficulty in diagnosing the condition early enough
  • Lack of standard approaches for managing complex cases
  • Uncertainties about who will benefit from specific treatments

AxSpA is a chronic condition that can cause significant pain and limited mobility. It is important to continue exploring new approaches to help people with axSpA find relief from their symptoms. Research is ongoing to better understand the causes and develop targeted treatments. As doctors learn more about what causes axSpA and how to recognize it, they can diagnose it earlier and treat it more effectively.1,2