Very early Systemic Sclerosis - Hit Hard and Early?

Thursday 20 June 2024, 10:30 am
PhD candidate
B.E. Kersten
prof. dr. F.H.J. van den Hoogen, dr. C.H.M. van den Ende
dr. M.C. Vonk

Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) is a rare autoimmune disease that causes scarring of the skin and internal organs. The disease is incurable and fatal, and leads to a considerable reduction in quality of life. An overview of the effect of current treatments on disease symptoms is given in this thesis. The focus of this thesis is on the diagnosis and treatment of very early SSc, aiming to prevent irreversible damage from occurring. Early symptoms primarily manifest in the hands, making recognition challenging. Our study on photoacoustic and high-frequency ultrasound revealed a possible additional role for these techniques in early diagnosis. Moreover, the results of the first-ever medication trial in very early SSc are described. Unfortunately, a large proportion of patients developed disease progression within one year, despite treatment with high-dose prednisone. This finding underscores the importance of follow-up studies with other immunomodulating medications in very early SSc.

Brigit Eveline Kersten (1985) obtained her medical degree from the Radboud University in Nijmegen in 2010 and began her training as a rheumatologist in the same region in 2011. In 2017, she interrupted her training to start her doctoral research on very early Systemic Sclerosis at the Rheumatology department of the Radboud university medical center. She completed her rheumatology training in December 2021. Currently, she works as a rheumatologist at the Sint Maartenskliniek in Nijmegen.