Efficacy and safety of levilimab, a monoclonal antibody to interleukin-6 receptors, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

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Interleukin (IL)-6 is a proinlammatory cytokine contributing significantly to the pathogenesis of joint disease and systemic manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Levilimab is a new original monoclonal antibody that blocks both soluble and membrane-bound IL-6 receptors. Efficacy and favorable safety profile of levilimab in combination with methotrexate were shown in two randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials (AURORA and SOLAR) that included patients with active RA despite treatment with methotrexate alone. Both primary and multiple secondary efficacy endpoints including ACR response, low disease activity or remission rates, changes in RA activity scores, etc, confirmed a higher efficacy of levilimab compared to placebo. Profile of adverse events was typical for IL-inhibitors. Several observational studies suggested that unlike rituximab or medium or high dose glucocorticoids IL-6 receptors inhibitors do not worsen outcomes of COVID19 and do not impair immunogenicity of vaccines against COVID-19. Therefore, patients treated with levilimab should not delay vaccination or modify the dosing regimen prior to vaccination.

Key words

Rheumatoid arthritis, IL-6 inhibitors, levilimab, COVID-19