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What Is Tocilizumab Used For?

Tocilizumab for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a form of rheumatoid arthritis that begins in childhood. In juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the immune system begins to attack the body (including the joints), causing pain.
There are several different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis. With the systemic type, the entire body can be affected, with additional symptoms such as unexplained rashes, fever, and internal organ problems. Nonsystemic types include the polyarticular and oligoarticular types. With the polyarticular type, five or more joints are affected, as compared to the oligoarticular type, which affects four or fewer joints.
Tocilizumab is approved to treat active systemic or polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in individuals age two years and older.

How Does Tocilizumab Work?

Tocilizumab is an antibody that binds to a specific set of receptors known as interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptors in the body. This action prevents the interleukin-6 (which is a natural inflammatory protein) from binding to the receptor, thereby reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition to being a biological response modifier, tocilizumab is also known as a "biologic" medication, because it is a protein. Lastly, this medication is also classified as a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies (synthetic antibodies made in a laboratory) are a diverse group of medications used to treat a wide variety of conditions.

Can Children Use It?

Tocilizumab is approved to treat systemic or polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children as young as two years old. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using this medication in children.
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