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Three Drugs Show Promise Against Bowel Disease

Alequel, Humira and Remicade reduced symptoms in trials

TUESDAY, May 17, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The estimated 1 million Americans plagued by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may have three promising new treatment options on the way, according to research presented May at the Digestive Disease Week 2005 conference in Chicago.

Clinical trials found Alequel, Humira (adalimumab) and Remicade (infliximab) effective in decreasing the severity of IBD symptoms while increasing rates of clinical remission and response in patients.

IBD is an umbrella term for several chronic diseases, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, that cause inflammation of the intestine.

"Crohn's and ulcerative colitis are serious and complex diseases with varied treatment options. Unfortunately, the available therapies are not effective in many patients," researcher Dr. John Johanson, of the University of Illinois, said in a prepared statement.

"These findings deliver promising news for patients who do not respond to currently available therapies and is much needed step in improving the lives of people suffering from IBD," he said.

One study found that Crohn's patients taking Alequel, a protein-containing extract made from tissue removed from a patient's own colon -- delivered a 58 percent clinical remission rate, compared to 29 percent for patients on placebo. Positive clinical response, meaning a decrease in symptoms, was seen in 67 percent of patients taking Alequel, compared to 29 percent for patients taking placebo.

The study also found that 43 percent of those taking Alequel had improvement in their overall quality of life, compared to 12 percent of those on placebo.

The study was funded by Enzo Biochem, Inc., the developers of Alequel.

A second study found of Crohn's patients found that taking the drug Humira for six months resulted in a 33.2 percent rate of disease remission, compared to 5.5 percent remission among patients at the start of treatment. Clinical response increased from 40.5 percent at the start of the study to more than 78 percent following six months of treatment. That study was funded by the drug's maker, Abbott Laboratories.

Two studies of people with ulcerative colitis also found that the drug Remicade (infliximab) appeared effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of the disease. The study was funded by Centocor, the maker of Remicade.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about IBD.

SOURCE: Digestive Disease Week, news release, May 16, 2005
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