Upadacitinib is in clinical development for the treatment of active ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in adults. AS is a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed. The inflammation can lead to back pain, fatigue and in serious cases to severe disability as the bones of the spine fuse into a fixed position or joints become progressively damaged. Some patients with AS do not respond well to current treatment options, resulting in a clear unmet medical need.
Upadacitinib acts by selectively blocking a protein called Janus-Associated Kinase 1 (JAK1 and JAK1/3). JAKs contribute to the processes within the cell to produce an immune or inflammatory response. There is an emerging body of evidence establishing that JAK dependent enzymes are major contributors to the progression of immunemediated diseases such as AS and that blocking such enzymes can be beneficial. Upadacitinib is taken orally and if licensed, it will offer an additional treatment option for patients with active AS.