According to a story from the pharmaceutical company Takeda, the company recently released the results from its clinical trial testing an experimental subcutaneous formula of the drug vedolizumab. The drug is a currently available treatment for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, but this new formulation could offer potential advantages over the currently available one.
About Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a long term condition which is characterized by inflammation and ulcers affecting the rectum and colon. The direct cause of ulcerative colitis is not known, but potential risk factors include family history, other inflammatory diseases, and a diet which includes meat, alcohol and sulfur. Interestingly, smoking appears to decrease risk. It is an autoimmune disease in which T-cells infiltrate the colon or rectum. Symptoms develop slowly and can vary in their severity; they include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, and anemia. In severe disease complications such as colon cancer or megacolon may appear, and inflammation can spread to other parts of the body. The disease tends to present in a relapsing/remitting form, and treatment involves surgery and medications. Surgical removal of the affected area of the colon can resolve digestive symptoms. The disease usually does not impact lifespan. To learn more about ulcerative colitis, click here.
Currently, vedolizumab is available as an intravenous (IV) formulation. The drug is effective in treating both ulcerative colitis and the somewhat similar but more common Crohn’s disease. Vedolizumab is a monoclonal antibody, and generally the drug is recommended for treatment only if other medications, such as immunomodulators and corticosteroids, have failed. This primarily due to the fact that while the treatment is highly effective, it can also cause some troubling side effects, including increased vulnerability to infection and increased risk of cancer and heart failure.
The study tested the subcutaneous formula on patients who achieved clinical response six weeks after receiving to IV doses of vedolizumab. A significant proportion of patients were able to achieve remission 52 weeks after receiving the subcutaneous formula every two weeks during this period. The subcutaneous formula will offer a more convenient delivery mechanism for the drug while maintaining the effectiveness of the original IV formulation.
To check out the study in detail, click here.