Rising Global Need for Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Cytokine Blocking Immunotherapies Show Potential
Individuals with IBD experience chronic, painful, and often humiliating GI-associated symptoms (Figure 1: Symptoms and long-term complications associated with IBD) that can lead to a substantial decrease in their quality of life. Chronic inflammation of portions of the GI tract associated with IBD, if allowed to go unchecked, can lead to severe complications such as malnutrition, colon cancer, intestinal fistulas and ruptures. Additionally, a correlation exists between more severe courses of the disease and earlier onset (2).
While the exact cause of IBD remains unknown, it is commonly thought to be a combination of three factors (Figure 2: Contributing factors of IBD). According to the CCFA, various environmental agents, genetic predispositions, and dysfunctional immune responses are all thought to play a role in triggering the onset of IBD.
How Common Is IBD?
Over 1 million residents in the USA and 2.5 million in Europe are estimated to have IBD (Kaplan, 2015). Even though data from developing countries is limited, the incidence and prevalence of IBD is increasing with time and in different parts of the world, indicating its emergence as a global disease (Molodecky et al., 2012). This being the case, it is highly likely that you may already know someone personally suffering from or affected by IBD.
Figure 3. Five types of medication used to treat IBD (2)
There are currently 5 classes of medications used to treat IBD (Figure 3). Biologics are the most recent treatment and are only used for patients with moderate to severe cases not responding well to other therapies. In Crohn’s disease, it has even been shown that a combination of biologic and immunosuppressant therapies are the most effective for achieving and maintaining remission (Hazlewood et al., 2015).
T Cells' Role in Inflammation Signaling Pathways
- CCFA: Facts about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2016, from http://www.ccfa.org/resources/facts-about-inflammatory.html