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What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"

Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant is being developed into a brand new type of tool which will help you to get the answers you need for your type of arthritis.

This automated chat service is designed to provide general information about your condition and ways you can manage it. It’s been developed from over 80 years of our research work and also learns from the experiences of its users. It’s a ‘beta’ version which means it’s still learning from you, and others. It uses artificial intelligence to decide which are the best responses to give you and it will improve each time it’s used. The better the information we can provide then the more people we can help to manage their condition too.

The advice in this service isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice so we’d always recommend speaking to your doctor about your treatment. When you use the Arthritis Virtual Assistant, you’ll be asked for your first name and the type of arthritis you have, there’s no need to tell us anything more personal than that.

By using the Arthritis Virtual Assistant you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
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> > > > What is abatacept and why is it prescribed?

What is abatacept and why is it prescribed?

Abatacept (trade name: Orencia) is a type of drug called a biological therapy. It works by interfering with the function of particular cells (T-cells) in the immune system. This action modifies the inflammation and immune activity which cause the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

It's a long-term treatment, so it may be 6–12 weeks before you start to notice the benefits.

Abatacept can be prescribed by a rheumatologist for rheumatoid arthritis. It may be the first biological therapy you receive, or you may have tried others first such as an anti-TNF drug or rituximab. It's almost always used in combination with methotrexate.

Are there any reasons why I won't be prescribed abatacept?

Abatacept won't be started if:

Your doctor may decide not to prescribe abatacept if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, or if:

  • you have an infection or have had repeated infections
  • you're currently taking an anti-TNF drug
  • you've had cancer.

You'll probably have blood tests before treatment starts to assess whether the drug will be suitable for you. Your doctor will need to check if you've previously been exposed to tuberculosis (TB). You may need a course of treatment for latent (asymptomatic) TB.

If you've previously had hepatitis you may need regular checks for this as abatacept may increase the risk of hepatitis being reactivated.

If you're taking other drugs alongside abatacept you'll also need to continue any blood tests required for these.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.