Immune System Drugs Help IBD
From Viagra Relative to Arthritis Medication, New Drugs Promise Gentler, Better Results
New Immune System Drug Antibody Prevents Crohn's Flare-Ups
In another new study, the drug Antegren helped prevent
flare-ups associated with Crohn's disease in people who were in remission,
reports Brian G. Feagan, MD, professor of medicine in the department of
epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario in
The drug has already been shown to induce remission in Crohn's
Antegren works by keeping immune system cells from leaving the
bloodstream. In Crohn's patients, this appears to prevent the immune system
attack on the gut that occurs with the disease, Feagan says. "If we can
prevent that, white blood cells would stay in the circulation where they
The researchers studied 339 adults with Crohn's disease who had
improved or gone into remission after receiving three infusions of Antegren.
The patients were randomly assigned to continue to receive Antegren for up to
12 additional monthly infusions, or to placebo.
Six months later, 44% of patients given Antegren were still in
remission, compared with 26% on placebo, Feagan says. Also, 61% of those taking
the drug continued to show an improvement in symptoms, compared with 29% on
People who took Antegren were no more likely to suffer side
effects than those on placebo, he explains.
Viagra Relative Fights Ulcerative Colitis
The first of a totally new class of agents related to Viagra,
the compound OPC-6535 appears to be safe and effective for the treatment of
ulcerative colitis, Hanauer says.
In the study 186 people with active ulcerative colitis
(diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and/or other symptoms) were
randomly assigned to receive one of two oral doses of the drug or a placebo for
eight weeks. Many were also taking anti-inflammatory or other ulcerative
colitis treatments like Rowasa or Pentasa.
The disease improved significantly in about half of the
participants taking the active drug -- but the effect was greater in those
taking the higher dose. Also, 20% of those taking the higher dose of OPC-6535
went into full remission from the disease, compared with fewer than 5% taking
placebo, he says.
OPC-6535 attacks an enzyme that is present on immune cells in
the brain and lung, inhibiting a number of white blood cell functions
associated with inflammation, according to Hanauer.
Side effects observed in trials of OPC-3565 include headache,
nausea, and dizziness.
A major advantage of the drug is that it is given in pill form,
he notes. Many current therapies for ulcerative colitis are administered by
injection or infusion.
Organ Transplant Drug Relieves Ulcerative Colitis
Other researchers report that Simulect, an injectable drug
already used to prevent rejection of new organs in transplant patients, may
also help people with ulcerative colitis.
"Currently, steroids are the best available treatment for
ulcerative colitis, but 30% of patients simply don't respond," says Tom L.
Creed, MD, PharmD, clinical research fellow at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories
of the University of Bristol in the U.K. Others can't tolerate the drugs
because of side effects, he says. There are few other options if steroids don't
work except surgery to remove the colon (colectomy).