Ulcerative rectocolitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine, which mainly affects the colon. For reasons that are not known, the immune system attacks the intestine, thus causing inflammation.

Professor Silvio Danese, Head of the Centre for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases of the Intestine at Humanitas, spoke about ulcerative rectocolitis in an interview with Radio InBlu.

“Patients with ulcerative rectocolitis complain of diarrhea and often notice the presence of blood. In some cases the disease may be confused with hemorrhoids, especially in lighter cases.

However, a colonoscopy is used to diagnose and often small biopsies are needed to perform a histological examination to confirm whether or not inflammatory cells are present in the intestine,” explains Professor Danese.


How is ulcerative rectocolitis treated?

“Traditional drugs (e.g. cortisone, immunosuppressants) and biological drugs are available for treating this disease: they are intelligent drugs that can turn off the fundamental buttons of inflammation. They work against many inflammatory diseases, not just intestinal ones, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, because very often the mechanisms of inflammation in these diseases are common. In patients with multiple conditions at once, it is possible to switch off or control several districts with a single drug,” explains Prof. Danese.


A new drug on the path of being approved

There are also a great many investigational drugs. A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, conducted on a small synthetic molecule (tofacitinib) has shown that this drug can block multiple mediators of inflammation simultaneously, offering positive effects on multiple fronts.

“The study, conducted in patients with moderate to severe disease who have never been exposed to or are resistant to biological drugs, has shown excellent success rates regardless of the patient’s medical history.

The new drug is currently on the path of being approved and could be available in about a year. It is thought that it is already available for rheumatoid arthritis, demonstrating that mechanisms from an immunological point of view are interlinked,” concluded Prof. Danese.