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Is a New Crohn’s Disease Treatment on the Horizon?

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New Options Needed for Crohn’s Disease

“The current agents are effective, but not in everyone,” says Gary Lichtenstein, MD. He is the director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. 

This study looks at the “[person] who doesn’t respond to TNF drugs, and the new drug may help them avoid surgery,” he says.

Crohn’s is an extremely debilitating disease for many people. “They lose a lot of days from work, it affects their social life, and they are always looking for bathrooms,” he says. “It is a horrible disease and can be very aggressive.”

Symptoms range in severity and may include:

  • Chronic diarrhea, often bloody and containing mucus or pus
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness
  • Feeling of a mass or fullness in the abdomen
  • Rectal bleeding

In the future, Stelara may also be tried before TNF blockers among people with Crohn’s. “We know it is effective for people who have failed TNF drugs, and I can imagine that it would also be effective for people who didn’t fail them.”

Burton Korelitz, MD, says that the more drugs doctors have with which to treat Crohn's, the better for patients. He is the chief emeritus and director of clinical research in the division of gastroenterology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Crohn’s disease doesn’t have a cure. “There is always room for another good drug right up until the time that we understand the cause of the disease and can tailor therapy to the cause in each patient.”

The findings appear in the Oct. 18, 2012, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Stelara manufacturer Janssen Research and Development provided support for the new study.

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