Successful Abatacept treatment for an autoimmune disorder that causes painful and swollen joints

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Dear Pain Matters readers,

I am sure that you will enjoy this story about Karla as much as I did!

Genome testing has changed Karla De Lautour’s life and helped scientists understand her autoimmune condition (21/5/2020)

Quoting her rheumatologist, Dr Davinder Singh-Grewal,

“[Karla] had a lot of pain [due to painful and swollen joints], she was stiff every morning and it really was affecting her ability to live a normal life.” 

Enter Professor Chris Goodnow and his team at Sydney’s Garvan Institute who not only found a single fault in her genome, but also knew that an existing drug, Abatacept, could target the problem.

When Chris Goodnow met Karla for the first time (after successful Abatacept treatment), he was overjoyed to find Karla transformed into “a fantastic, chirpy, totally normal, 7-year-old”, thanks to his team’s research.

Not only does Abatacept directly target Karla’s painful autoimmune disorder, but it is also much easier for her to tolerate.

Karla now has an Abatacept infusion once every 2 weeks that offers her pain relief.

In closing, her rheumatologist said,

“Had they not sequenced the genome, [Karla] would have continued on in pain.”

Karla added,

“It feels better because it makes my pain go away and it feels comfortable.”

What could be better than this??

I hope you enjoyed this heart-warming story about Karla.

Sabina Walker

Blogger, Pain Matters (



Abatacept (brand name Orencia) is part of a new class of medicines called biological disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (biological DMARDs or bDMARDs).

Abatacept blocks T cell (a type of white blood cell) responses. This leads to reduced inflammation, less joint damage and, best of all (from a patient’s perspective), decreased pain, swelling and other symptoms.

Abatacept is offered as a drip (infusion) into the vein. Alternatively, it is given as an injection under the skin of the abdomen or thigh (subcutaneous injection). The infusion usually takes 30 minutes. Additional doses may be given every 2 – 4 weeks after the first dose.


(1) Lloyd, Mary. Genome testing has changed Karla De Lautour’s life and helped scientists understand her autoimmune condition. ABC News (21/5/2020).

(2) Abatacept. Arthritis Australia


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