But findings are preliminary, experts point out
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Amy Norton
The study, of more than 150 adults with Crohn's, found that just two weeks of treatment sent many into remission -- meaning they had few to no symptoms of the inflammatory bowel disease 28 days after the study began.
And the drug worked quickly. "There was a pretty high remission rate in a short period of time. That's impressive," said Dr. Raymond Cross, a gastroenterologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.
In theory, the new drug -- dubbed mongersen -- could be safer than existing medications, too, according to Cross. Cross also co-chairs the education committee for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).
But time will tell, Cross said. "You can't really assess safety in two weeks," he explained.
And, the study authors wrote that longer-term studies of both the safety and effectiveness of mongersen need to be done, along with studies that compare the new drug to existing therapies.
Results of the study were published March 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trial was funded by Giuliani (an Italian pharmaceutical company), under contract to Nogra Pharma -- a Dublin, Ireland, company that developed mongersen. Nogra Pharma recently struck a licensing agreement with U.S.-based Celgene Corp. to market the drug.
According to the CCFA, up to 700,000 Americans have Crohn's -- a chronic inflammatory disease that causes abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation and rectal bleeding. It arises when the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the digestive tract.
There are already a number of drugs that work well against Crohn's, Cross said -- particularly the biologics, which block specific proteins that trigger the inflammation in Crohn's.
source : New Drug for Crohn's Disease Shows Early Promise