A study referred to as Impact is underway in Alberta to determine the effect a popular antimalarial drug has on those suffering from rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.

Led by a team in the Division of Rheumatology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta including Dr. Stephanie Keeling, a clinical rheumatologist and associate professor along with Dr. Walter Maksymowych, a professor and medical scientist, the trial will study a group of rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis patients in northern Alberta who are on biologic therapies and participate in the RAPPORT (Rheumatoid Arthritis Pharmacovigilance) Registry. These special biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) have been shown to  slow and stop damaging inflammation, and are genetically engineered to act like natural proteins to target specific parts of the immune system that fuel inflammation. 

This study will invite current patients in the RAPPORT registry to  compare the proportions of those taking antimalarials with their bDMARD —primarily hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) versus the proportion of participants on bDMARDs not taking HCQ. Dr. Maksymowych says this will help researchers understand the effects on COVID-19 infection in inflammatory arthritis patients receiving these therapies. He also stresses the importance of why participating in studies like this are pivotal for moving research forward. “This could lead to the use of one or more of these therapies for treating COVID infection.”

Participants Needed

Participants will be invited through email or Canada Post to complete a short online survey. This survey will be reoccurring every month, and will be used to screen participants for the preceding 2-4 weeks to see if they have any potential symptoms of an infection. Blood will be drawn to measure whether participants have developed antibodies to COVID-19 whether or not they ever developed symptoms.