Crohn’s disease is a chronic and acute inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. About 70,000 Italians suffer from it; the most affected are young people between 20 and 30 years of age (the disease rarely occurs in the over 65s), but there are also cases that occur even in children and adolescents.

How to recognize Crohn’s symptoms and diagnosis

Crohn’s disease can occur in different ways and with symptoms common to other diseases, so it cannot always be diagnosed immediately. Abdominal pain, cramps, weight loss, fatigue, prolonged diarrhoea and fever are the main symptoms of this progressive and disabling disease.

Laboratory tests, CTs and MRIs are used for diagnosis, while colonoscopies and gastroscopies are used to better locate the disease along the intestinal tract.

A new, faster and more lasting treatment

To date there are numerous drugs on the market to treat this disorder, including cortisone, immunosuppressants and biological drugs, in particular infliximab, adalimumab and vedolizumab. From now on, a new biological drug with a new mechanism of action, the Ustekinumab, is also available in Italy. Scientific data have shown that the action of this drug is faster in the short term and that the effect lasts longer over time: in 75% of patients undergoing therapy, the disease has been in remission after two years.

Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Centre for Chronic Intestinal Inflammatory Diseases at Humanitas, talked about it in an interview: “Today the greatest need still not satisfied by people suffering from Crohn’s Disease – explained the professor – is to combine a sudden improvement, which can solve the painful acute phase, with the effectiveness maintained in the long run, to allow the patient to feel good over the years without having to deal with relapses and changes of treatment. This new therapeutic option opens up for the first time a wide horizon that has yet to be explored, that of the longest disease-free period ever observed”.

“Compared to the most common drugs to date, the anti-TNF – added Danese – Ustekinumab brings an improvement as early as the third week since the beginning of therapy. And a study has recently shown that its effects last up to three years from the start of treatment.