Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that mainly affects the colon. Due to still unknown reasons, the immune system attacks the bowel, thus provoking an inflammation.
Professor Silvio Danese, Supervisor of the Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Humanitas, spoke about ulcerative colitis in an interview for Radio InBlu.
“Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis report bouts of diarrhea and fecal blood. In some cases, this disease has similar symptoms to hemorrhoids, especially in the lighter cases.
The diagnosis is done by means of colonoscopy, where generally, little biopsies are needed in order to perform a histological exam to confirm (or not) the presence of inflammatory cells in the bowel”, Professor Danese explains.
Whatt is the cure for ulcerative colitis?
“We treat this disease with traditional medications (for example, cortisone and immunosuppressants) and biological medications. These are smart medications, able to switch the main causes of the inflammation. They work against many inflammatory diseases, not just the intestinal ones, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. In fact, the inflammatory mechanisms are often the same in every such disease. In patients suffering from more than one disease at the same time, a single medication may cure or control more areas”, Prof. Danese explains.
A new medication is coming soon
There are many drugs under development too. A recent study about a small synthetic molecule (tofacitinib), published on the New England Journal of Medicine, has shown that this medication is able to block more than one inflammation mediator at the time, with positive effects on many areas.
“This study was about patients with a moderate or severe disease that never took biological medications, or that did not tolerate them. It has shown excellent success rates, regardless of the clinic records of patients.
The new medication is coming soon, and it may be available on the market within a year. It is already available for rheumatoid arthritis, thus demonstrating that immune mechanisms are linked”, Prof. Danese said.