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What Is Canakinumab Used For?

Healthcare providers may prescribe canakinumab for use in the treatment of certain inflammatory conditions in adults and children as young as two years old. For example, one of the drug's uses is the treatment of systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Canakinumab works by blocking a certain protein in the body that causes inflammation.

An Overview of Uses for Canakinumab

Canakinumab (Ilaris®) is a prescription injectable medication approved to treat people who have cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes (CAPS). It is also approved to treat systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) in children two years and older.

Canakinumab for CAPS

CAPS is a group of rare genetic syndromes that cause inflammation throughout the body. There are three conditions that make up CAPS, and they differ primarily in the severity of symptoms. The conditions of CAPS include:
  • Familial cold autoinflammatory syndrome (FCAS)
  • Muckle-Wells syndrome (MWS)
  • Neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease (NOMID).
People with CAPS have an inherited mutation in a gene that causes an autoinflammatory response. This means the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, leading to inflammation. The inflammation then causes the symptoms of the disease. Symptoms of CAPS can include but are not limited to:
  • A rash
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Eye inflammation, such as:
    • Conjunctivitis (swelling of the membrane lining the eyelids or conjunctiva)
    • Uveitis (swelling of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye).
FCAS is generally the least severe form of CAPS. Most people with the condition live in the United States. Symptoms usually occur after exposure to cold temperatures and can last as long as 24 hours.
MWS is generally more severe than FCAS. The symptoms are not usually related to exposure to cold temperature. In addition, MWS symptoms often occur more frequently and last longer than those of FCAS. In some cases, complications like hearing loss may occur.
NOMID is the most severe form of CAPS. As the name implies, the onset of the disease is around the time of birth. Symptoms can occur daily, often affect multiple organs and body systems, and usually lead to severe complications, such as:
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Joint damage
  • Death.
Canakinumab is approved to treat FCAS and MWS. In clinical studies, the medication was shown to reduce the symptoms of these conditions when given once every eight weeks. It is unclear whether canakinumab can prevent or reverse long-term complications of the disease, such as hearing loss.
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Canakinumab Drug Information

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