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Individual Treatment Plan Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient

  • December 1, 2006
  • Number of views: 2447
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Thanks to new drug therapy, Janis Pupillo is looking forward to her son’s wedding. Janis Pupillo lived with rheumatoid arthritis since her early twenties.

"When I was younger I was still able to carry my four boys and keep it under control with minimal amounts of medicine," says Pupillo, now 53, of St. Louis.

However, what was once controllable forced her to retire early from her teaching career. "I physically couldn’t do it anymore," she says.

Her physician referred her to Washington University rheumatologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

One of those experts, Prabha Ranganathan, MD, Washington University rheumatologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, helped change Pupillo’s life. "She’s unusual in that I’ve seen a lot of different specialists," says Pupillo. "She treats the whole person and she’s committed to treating you without being intimidating or scary."

Dr. Ranganathan got Pupillo’s rheumatoid arthritis under control by trying different combinations of medications. While she also helps patients in a clinical setting, her clinical research interest lies in pharmacogenetics, the study of variations in the genetic makeup of individual patients that may affect their response to different medications.

"Specifically, I am studying the pharmacogenetics of methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis," says Dr. Ranganathan. "The ultimate goal of my work is to help individualize treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis by providing genetic information that may help predict therapeutic outcomes and avoid toxicities."

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed by Pupillo. "I went from crying all day long to thanking her for getting my life back," she says.

Pupillo hopes to get back in the classroom someday, but for now she’s busy helping plan her son’s wedding.

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