Amsterdam UMC’s new drug doubles remission rates in patients with ulcerative colitis
A new drug, being investigated by Amsterdam UMC along with colleagues at various universities, has been shown to be effective against ulcerative colitis (UC), with its clinical trial demonstrating a doubling in remission rates (up to 50% in certain groups). Full results of this study have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
UC is a common but chronic disease of the colon, often leading to symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, abdominal pain, anaemia and fatigue. Many patients have an impaired quality of life as current treatments are not always able to control the disease, meaning they often have to undergo surgery with a stoma or pouch-construction.
Researchers identified interleukin-23 as an important protein which can trigger and maintain gut inflammation, both in UC and Crohn’s disease as well as in the chronic skin condition psoriasis. It has previously been shown that blocking this protein can be effective for treating those with Crohn’s and psoriasis, however mirikizumab is the first antibody to be tested for UC.
Two phase 3 clinical trials of mirikizumab have been conducted recently including 1281 adult patients with UC with moderate to severe inflammation. Patients received 300mg of the drug or a placebo via an infusion every four weeks for 12 weeks in total. Patients on mirikizumab were more likely to achieve clinical remission than those on placebo (24.2% versus 13.3% in the first trial, and 49.9% versus 25.1% in the second). Those on the drug also has higher clinical response, endoscopic remission and less bowel movement urgency.
Geert D’Haens, lead author and professor of Gastroenterology at Amsterdam UMC, stated: “There is still a high unmet need for safe and effective treatments for UC. This new medicine meets this need for an important proportion of patients. […] If we combine these results together, we see that mirikizumab is an effective drug for those patients with moderately severe and severe forms of UC. We hope that it will be available as a treatment option in Europe this year.”
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