Steady Progress

Appears in the December 2018 issue.

A local chronic disease specialist offers hope for those suffering from arthritis

One of the things that initially drew Mariam Khan to rheumatology was the combination of discovery and gratification she saw among her mentors in the field—the critical thinking skills that were leading to impressive advancements in the treatment of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, and lupus. Now practicing at Elmhurst Clinic’s offices in Elmhurst and Hinsdale, Dr. Khan believes modern medicine’s progress against these chronic conditions has only gotten more encouraging in recent years.

Among the more notable advancements are disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers being used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. These drug therapies including immunosuppressants with consonant-heavy names such as tofacitinib, secukinumab, tocilizumab, and sarilumab. While these drugs carry heightened risks of infection and hepatitis B (side effects can be managed through close observation and frequent blood tests), Dr. Khan believes they provide long-suffering patients with something they could certainly use more of—hope.

“We’re as far along as we’ve ever been,” the rheumatologist says. “Thanks to recent advances, a better understanding of the diseases—and the development of these new therapeutic agents targeting important disease mediators—outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis have improved dramatically, and remission is possible for many patients now and in the near future.”