Despite New Inflammatory Bowel Disease Therapies, Difficulty Treating Persists

In a recent video interview with Healio, Dr. David Rubin recapped some of his discussion at the 2019 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit. At the summit, he and his colleagues spoke about the treatments becoming increasingly available to patients of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Dr. Rubin, the co-director of University of Chicago Medicine’s Digestive Diseases Center, also spoke about some of the challenges that still face professionals tasked with treating the condition.

About Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is one kind of inflammatory bowel disease – a blanket term that describes any condition causing chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. In Crohn’s, this inflammation spreads deep into the tissue of the affected tract of the intestine and can lead to abdominal pain, fatigue, and severe diarrhea. Malnutrition and weight loss can occur in some instances of Crohn’s, and the disease can sometimes contribute to the development of life-threatening complications like colorectal cancer.

New Treatments Need New Habits

There’s been a “literal explosion” in new therapies for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, Rubin said. TNF-inhibitors, anti-p40 antibodies, anti-integrin therapies, and small molecule drugs are all being developed to combat the globally climbing rates of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other IBDs.

While the development of new treatments will always be important, some treatments do already exist for the management of IBD. At the Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit, Dr. Rubin spoke about operational goals that would allow already-existing IBD treatments to work much more effectively.

Such goals included the early identification of inflammatory bowel disease and quick differentiation of the specific condition. When treating literally any health condition, the earlier you can diagnose it, the better. By more rapidly diagnosing IBD patients at a younger age, physicians can more aggressively treat the condition in a preventative fashion with existing therapies.

Rubin also spoke of the need to treat patients’ underlying disease, not just their symptoms. Conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are highly complex and individualized. By seeking to only relieve symptoms of a disease, physicians are contented to “treat” a disease rather than truly manage it. A fundamental shift in clinical attitude towards the treatment of IBDs must occur before any of the high-tech new treatments can matter.


How is the meaning of “treatment” changing from old notions? Do you think this is for the better or worse? Patient Worthy wants to hear your opinion!

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