1.4 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases –like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Constant diarrhea, abdominal pain, and intestinal bleeding are just some of the symptoms these patients endure. Now, there’s a new therapy for people who have tried everything.
A year ago, Megan Johnson would never have been able to enjoy a beautiful day.
“I was wheelchair-bound,” Megan told Ivanhoe.
Megan has ulcerative colitis. This 29-year-old suffered from constant diarrhea, bleeding, malnutrition, and severe pain.
“I just said if this is my life, I don’t want it. It’s too miserable,” Megan said.
When doctors suggested removing her intestines –Megan found UCSD Gastroenterologist William Sandborn.
“It’s always surprising to me how much inflammatory bowel disease can impact a patient’s life,” William Sandborn, MD, Chief of Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, San Diego, Director of UC San Diego Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, told Ivanhoe.
In inflammatory bowel disease, immune cells travel to the colon and make chemicals that cause inflammation. Most treatments target the chemicals after they attack, but a new therapy, called Vedolizumab, stops cells before they attack.
“It really acts to stop the diseases before they even start,” Dr. Sandborn said.
In a clinical trial, patients who had infusions of Vedolizumab every four or eight weeks, went into remission.
“I can’t even remember the last time I felt this good,” Megan said.
Megan is excited about this new option. She knows every day without pain is a good day.
The new drug was tested in patients with both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It could be approved and available for use in 2014. Another benefit is the therapy is targeted, so side effects—like weight gain, nausea, and headaches—are less common.
BACKGROUND: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intemperate of all of the organs in your digestive tract. This usually includes Crohn's disease and uncreative colitis, and is known to be very painful and uncomfortable. Crohn's disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract and spreads along the tissue. The effects of this disease are severe diarrhea, malnutrition, and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory bowel disease that is long-lasting. The symptoms of this disease develop over time, but it only affects the lining of the large intestine. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inflammatory-bowel-disease/DS01195)
CAUSES: Doctors have not pinpointed the specific cause of IBD, but they are sure that stress and a poor diet are not the main factors. Researchers are now focusing on hereditary and the immune system as leading causes. If one or both of your parents has IBD, then chances of you having it are greater than if they didn’t. Researchers suggest that genetics may play a role in developing the disease. The immune system is another target for triggering IBD. Researchers believe that bacterium, or a virus, also prompts inflammatory bowel disease. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inflammatory-bowel-disease/DS01195/DSECTION=causes)
SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of IBD come and go, and they may vary between each patient. Symptoms may include:
• Loss of appetite
• Weight los
• Blood in stool
• Urgency to have a bowel movement
• Abdominal cramps
• Iron deficiency (Source: http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/inflammatory-bowel-syndrome)
NEW TREATMENT: Vedolizumab is being tested to treat the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. This treatment’s purpose is to put the disease in remission so the patient will be able to live a healthy and normal life outside of the bathroom. Though the drug is not FDA approved yet, it has been tested on patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Common side effects of treatments for the disease are weight gain, headaches and nausea. However, Vedolizumab has not shown any listed side effects. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3557917/)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
William J. Sandborn, MD
Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Gastroenterology
Director, UCSD IBD Center
University of California San Diego and UC San Diego Health System