Mayo Clinic LogoAccording to a latest study led by Mayo Clinic experts, ulcerative colitis patients seem to have approximately 41 percent reduction in colectomy after a year when treated with infliximab.

Ulcerative colitis is known to be an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes chronic inflammation of the colon. In addition, it is believed to have to been characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Similar to Crohn’s disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis could possibly be devastating which may often result in colectomy. Colectomy is known to be a surgical procedure for removal of the colon.

Lead author of the study, William Sandborn, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, said that, “Our purpose in this study was to see if the use of infliximab for ulcerative colitis would reduce the need for surgery. We found that treatment with infliximab reduced the need for colectomy by 41 percent compared to patients treated with placebo.”

For the purpose of the study, the experts gave a placebo or infliximab of 5 or 10 mg/kg for about 46 weeks to nearly 728 patients. The study participants were noted to have been monitored for hospitalization or surgical outcomes.

Apparently, infliximab is an artificial antibody which functions by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). TNFα is believed to be a chemical messenger and a key part of the immune reaction. It was observed that infliximab blocks the action of TNFα thereby preventing it from binding to its receptor in the cell.

Supposedly, ulcerative colitis generally affects only the inner lining of the large intestine and rectum. The inner lining of the large intestine is known as colon Moreover, it usually occurs in a continuous stretch of the colon, unlike Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease seems to occur in patches anywhere in the digestive tract. Also, it often spreads into the deeper layers of affected tissues.

The study experts found that approximately eighty-seven percent i.e. 630 of 728 seem to have a complete follow-up for the endpoint of whether or not they had colectomy. It was further observed that the remaining 13 percent i.e. 98 of 728 of participants appear to have a follow-up for less than a year, with a median follow-up of 6.2 months in these participants.

The findings of the study revealed that treatment with infliximab at 0, 2 and 6 and then every 8 weeks seems to have reduced the occurrence of colectomy through 54 weeks by about 41 percent in outpatients with moderately-to-severe active ulcerative colitis.

“One of the most feared outcomes for ulcerative colitis patients is surgical removal of the colon. Our research hopes to provide other treatment solutions for patients beyond surgery,” says Dr. Sandborn.

Additionally, it was noted that the collective incidence of colectomy through 54 weeks may perhaps have been 10 percent for infliximab and 17 percent for placebo (p=0.02). However, when infliximab therapy was compared with placebo, fewer ulcerative colitis-related hospitalizations and surgeries/procedures occurred.

It was believed that earlier study has shown that infliximab therapy induced clinical remission and bowel healing for colitis patients. Dr. Sandborn elucidated that this new study appears to provide more information and options for patients experiencing this complex disease.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Gastroenterology.