A rheumatoid arthritis drug developed by Roche has been relaunched in the UK to treat children with the disease.

Toclizumab, also known as RoActemra, is already licensed to treat adults with severe arthritis, but as of today the drug will be available for children.

The latest clinical study of 112 children showed that after three months of taking tocizilumab, three quarters of the participants had a 70% improvement in their condition, compared with 8% taking the placebo.

One year later, two-thirds of children experienced a 90% improvement in their symptoms.

Around 2,500 children in the UK are currently living with the disease, which can persist into adulthood and cause significant disability.

In April this year, RoActemra (known as Actemra in the US) became the first systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis drug to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Toclizumab is a laboratory-manufactured antibody that blocks the activity of interleukin 6, an important immune system signalling molecule that underpins many inflammatory processes.