• About
Karolinska institutet
Karolinska universitetssjukhuset

Promising results from study on early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with biological drugs

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory joint disease which causes pain, fatigue, functional impairment, and frequently progressive joint destruction.

Early treatment is associated with improved outcome in patients with recently diagnosed RA, but the optimal firstline treatment is debated.

These are the 48-week results from the NORD-STAR study, a four-arm, investigator-initiated study in collaboration between the Nordic countries and the Netherlands.

The results show that early, aggressive treatment with the biological drugs abatacept and certolizumab pegol in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis provides better clinical efficacy compared to conventional treatment reinforced with initial cortisone therapy. However, there was no difference between the arms in terms of radiological progression, which was generally very low with all four types of treatment.

The study is coordinated from Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital. Adjunct Professor and CMM Team Leader Jon Lampa is the senior author. These results are important and may have implications for future international guidelines for the treatment of early RA.

The article was accepted on 7 June for publication in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The 24-week results were published in 2020 in BMJ (Hetland ML et al, BMJ 2020 Dec 2;371:m4328.).


Certolizumab pegol, abatacept, tocilizumab or active conventional treatment in early rheumatoid arthritis: 48-week clinical and radiographic results of the investigator-initiated randomised controlled NORD-STAR trial. Østergaard M, van Vollenhoven RF, Rudin A, et al. (see the paper for a complete list of authors), Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Published Online First: 09 July 2023. doi: 10.1136/ard-2023-224116.

About CMM

The Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) is a foundation instituted by the Stockholm County Council (Region Stockholm). CMM is at the heart of a close partnership with the Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, fueling advancements in biomedical and clinical research.


Center for Molecular Medicine Foundation, org. nr. 815201-3689

Karolinska University Hospital L8:05

Visionsgatan 18

171 76 Stockholm, Sweden


Karolinska institutet
Karolinska universitetssjukhuset