About BRASS

About BRASS

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, disabling disease that affects nearly 1%
of the U.S. population. The illness causes destruction of joint cartilage and
erosion of adjacent bone, leading to joint replacement as well as
extra-articular disease including cardiopulmonary manifestations, vasculitis,
and gastrointestinal and infectious complications. Many patients with RA suffer
progressive disability, pain, work loss, substantial health care costs, and
premature mortality. The current treatment of RA results in only modest
improvements in functional status and many patients progress to chronic
disability. Genetic factors play a role in disease susceptibility as well as
disease severity in RA. However, therapeutic choices in RA are currently
empirically based and it can take several months to find an efficacious drug or
drug combination, while irreversible joint damage occurs. Use of a patient’s
individual genetic profile may help guide physicians with therapeutic planning;
determining the likelihood of response and toxicity to medications, as well as
disease prognosis.
The Brigham and Women’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study (BRASS) Registry,
is a prospective observational study involving 1000 patients diagnosed with RA.
Participants undergo a detailed baseline examination that includes demographic
and clinical information, functional status, disease activity, comorbidity,
laboratory testing and hand radiographs. The primary outcomes of interest are
the presence of erosive and extra-articular disease, decline in functional
status and significant drug toxicity.

Patients who agree to participate in this study have the following exams and
tests during their yearly visits with their rheumatologist:

  1. A typical joint count exam by your rheumatologist to determine pain and
    swelling of the joints;
  2. Information including your age, sex, race (first visit only);
  3. Information on the treatments you receive for RA, your overall medical
    condition, the extent you are able to function with your RA, how active your RA
    disease is, how it affects your day to day living as well as your overall
    quality of life;
  4. An X-ray of both hands will be performed at your first visit, year 3 and
    year 5 only; and
  5. A blood sample for C-reactive protein and rheumatoid factor which are blood markers for inflammation.

Investigators interested in working with data collected in the BRASS registry
first submit a letter of intent and once that is approved, they submit a
proposal to the BRASS Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) for approval. The SAB is
composed of Senior Scientists from the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and
Allergy and related Departments within the Brigham & Women’s Hospital or Harvard
Medical School.