Happy holidays! Sip some eggnog and enjoy this holiday edition of the Handoff. We look forward to bringing you the latest in rheumatology in the new year. 

–Researchers at the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases have found evidence that systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) is distinct genetically from other types of JIA. The study was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.


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–Good news for women in medicine: a JAMA article highlighted data indicating that elderly hospitalized patients treated by female internists had lower mortality and readmission rates than those treated by male internists. Was this a confounder effect or caused by differences in patient load? 

–The first round of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) audits by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) found that providers are still not doing some of the most basic tasks required by the law.

–The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced critical changes in its registration renewal process. Beginning January 1, 2017, the agency will send a single renewal notice to each registrant stating that their registration is due to expire.

–The impact of potentially modifiable psychological factors on decision to undergo total knee arthroplasty was recently examined in patients with osteoarthritis (OA). Research finds that expectations about pain are out of line with reality and contribute to decisions that delay total knee arthroplasty in patients who may need it the most.

–The University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine is 1 of 4 institutions slated to receive a $2.5 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The grant will support research into OA therapies, in hopes that investigators can positively impact the standard of care.

–Studies of mice infused with stem cells collected from amniotic fluid provided promising results to researchers: the procedure encouraged the healthy growth of existing bone cells, opening an avenue for further research and a potential new osteoporosis treatment. These findings were published in Nature Scientific Reports. 

–The FDA’s accelerated approval process has thus far been successful, offering hope to patients with autoimmune diseases like Lupus, who are awaiting new treatments

–Another study from the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that nearly one-fourth of patients with either psoriatic arthritis (PsA) or ankylosing spondylitis (AS) fulfilled classification criteria for both diseases, suggesting that the pattern of axial disease is “influenced significantly” by the presence of psoriasis.

–The European Medicines Agency Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended authorizing approval of baricitinib (Olumiant®, Eli Lilly Nederland B.V.) for RA.

–Maxime Dougados, MD, professor of rheumatology at the René Descartes University-Paris 5 and Cochin Hospital in Paris, France, discusses results of the RA-BUILD clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of baricitinib in patients with inadequate response or intolerance to conventional synthetic DMARDs.

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