Recent advances in research into the earliest phases of RA have provided additional insights into the processes leading from the healthy to the diseased state. These insights have opened the way for the development of preventive strategies for RA, which represents a significant paradigm shift from treatment to prevention and will have major implications for patients as well as society. It would be a huge step forward if clinical signs and symptoms, disability, impaired quality of life and the need for chronic immunosuppressive treatment could be prevented. RA can be seen as a prototypic autoimmune disease, and discoveries about the preclinical diseased state for RA could potentially facilitate research into prevention of other immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as type 1 diabetes, SLE and multiple sclerosis. This review focuses on the current knowledge of factors contributing to the development of RA and discusses the opportunities for intervention.
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