Antibodies to Crohn’s disease: The result of this challenge was made official at the Congress of the European Organization for Crohn’s Disease and Colitis. A successful battle thanks to the development of new drugs capable of extinguishing inflammation and treating chronic diseases of the intestine with increasingly appropriate means which, in the most serious cases, are antibodies. We talked about it with Prof. Silvio Danese, gastroenterologist at Humanitas.
Switching off inflammation
Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases are diseases of the digestive system, the main ones being Crohn’s disease and ulcerative rectocolitis. The first is characterized by a chronic inflammation of the intestine that can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, the second specifically affects the colon. It is estimated that in Italy about 250 thousand people suffer from it, mostly young people between 20 and 40 years of age; the most frequent symptoms are diarrhea, often accompanied by blood, abdominal pain and weight loss, symptoms which causes are still unknown or only hypothesized, such as genetic predisposition on which environmental triggering factors act. If the aim of treatment is to eliminate the inflammation, then the way in which this is done depends primarily on the age at which the diseases occur and their degree of evolution. If the disease occurs during adolescence, long-term therapies must be chosen; if in old age the choice must take into account other concomitant diseases.
Medication, surgery or antibodies for healing
Drug therapy is essential in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In general, medications are used to reduce inflammation in the affected portions of the intestine and help alleviate symptoms. For both, therapy depends on the extent of the affected large intestine tract and the severity of the inflammation. If the inflammation has to be controlled in particular or the recurrence of symptoms prevented, the use of immunosuppressive drugs is frequent; if, on the other hand, the therapies are not effective or complications occur, surgery may be necessary. Today, however, in addition to traditional drugs, the disease can be controlled in refractory cases with antibodies, whose effects are rapid and lasting over time. This means that even if Crohn’s and other diseases are not solved forever, the mucous membrane is recovered. In addition, because of their number, antibodies offer more solutions: if one were to prove inadequate, there would be no problem of choice to find the alternative.