UCL News


UCL in the News: View from the lab

29 June 2007

Professor Jonathan Edwards [UCL Medicine] recently spent a weekend redecorating his office in a grim 1970s university research block.

The staff get used to doing without luxuries in the spartan UCL lab where the professor of rheumatology works with co-researcher Dr Jo Cambridge.

The décor is minimalist but there is a striking and intricately stitched picture of familiar garden birds on the wall. It was worked by a grateful rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient who had been put on to a drug developed in this lab. For many years her hands had been too bent and painful to sew but after treatment her hands improved so much that she could go back to her old hobbies.

Edwards and Cambridge's work with rituximab goes back to 1998, when they began researching the drug, then used to treat patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and realised it might work with RA. …

But Nice, which decides which drugs get NHS endorsement for funding in England and Wales, has so far declined to sanction its use. …

Edwards says that although he knows of several areas in England where rituximab has been funded for individual patients, there's no consistency and it's all down to "postcode prescribing".

"We have a lot of very good drugs for RA now," concludes Edwards, "and if we were able to use them, we would be able to keep most patients pretty well."

Isabel Berwick, 'Financial Times'