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Study Roundup: Psoriasis Drug May Be Used to Treat Crohn's Disease

A drug commonly used to treat psoriasis also blocks the production of proteins that cause inflammation.

--By Jenara Nerenberg

The Gist

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have concluded that a drug normally used to treat psoriasis—ustekinumab—can also decrease symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, according to a new study published in the October 18, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Crohn's disease affects 700,000 Americans, and is accompanied by painful cramping, diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss. In severe cases, surgery is required to remove the large intestine.

The new study documents a Phase II Clinical Trial that took place in 12 countries with 526 patients on the antibody, ustekinumab, which proved able to block two proteins, interleukin 12 and 23, that lead to inflammation.

The Expert Take 

"At this point in time, ustekinumab remains an investigational therapy for Crohn’s disease, but the Phase II study results are very promising, and suggest that ustekinumab could be a future new therapy for this condition," said William J. Sandborn, MD, lead investigator and chief of UCSD's Division of Gastroenterology.

Source and Method

The randomized trial was led by UCSD but held in 12 countries, and included 526 patients who were given ustekinumab over a 36-week period. Six weeks into the trial, benefits were observed. Phase III induction trials are now underway. "Our goal is to increase clinical response and put the disease in remission to improve the patient's quality of life," said Sandborn.
Based on the results of this study, two Phase III induction studies and one Phase III maintenance study are currently underway at UCSD and other medical centers around the world.

The Takeaway

Ustekinumab has proven helpful to patients with moderate to severe Crohn's disease and who are unresponsive to medications containing tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors—medications such as Remicade, Humira, and Cimzia. With new treatment choices on the horizon, Crohn's patients may have additional options to treat their painful symptoms.

Other Research

The Crohn's Forum has a section on its website devoted to ustekinumab, including drug information and a forum for user experiences.
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Tags: Drugs , Latest Studies & Research , Treatments

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