pharmacyA new treatment option for adult patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease has been launched in the UK. Ustekinumab (Stelara) is for patients who have had an inadequate response with, lost response to, or were intolerant to either conventional therapy or a TNFα antagonist or have medical contraindications to such therapies. With no known cure, the aim of treatment for Crohn’s disease is to stop the inflammatory process, relieve symptoms (induce and maintain remission) and avoid surgery wherever possible.

Ustekinumab is the first biologic therapy for Crohn’s disease targeting interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23 cytokines, which play a key role in inflammatory and immune responses. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract at any point. It affects approximately 115,000 people in the UK and although the exact cause is unknown it is associated with abnormalities of the immune system that could be triggered by a genetic predisposition or other environmental factors. Though anyone can be affected by Crohn’s disease at any age, it most often impacts those between the ages of 16 to 30 in both men and women and can affect people in many ways, for example, by potentially causing fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhoea, depression, stress, anaemia and colorectal cancer.

Dr Stuart Bloom, Consultant Gastroenterologist, University College London Hospitals, said: “Clinicians in the UK treating Crohn’s disease are routinely faced with the challenge of managing patients who have disease refractory to standard treatments. To have a new licensed biologic agent in Crohn’s disease is exciting, and in the coming years we look forward to seeing the role this agent plays in clinical practice."