Austrian researchers have found a new drug-tocilizumab (Actemra)-to be effective in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study involved 623 patients with moderate to severe RA who took the standard anti-arthritis drug methotrexate in addition to tocilizumab or a placebo. After 24 weeks, 59 percent of the patients taking tocilizumab had a 20 percent or greater improvement in RA symptoms, while only 26 percent on placebo experienced similar improvement. Tocilizumab works by blocking the interleukin-6 receptor, a molecule involved in promoting the painful inflammation of RA. Side effects of tocilizumab noted in the trial included a rise in patient cholesterol levels. The study was reported in the March 22 issue of The Lancet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is expected within the next few months.