Drugs cut need for surgery for Crohn's disease sufferers by more than half

January 29, 2014
Drugs cut need for surgery for Crohn's disease sufferers by more than half

The requirement of bowel surgery is dramatically reduced by up to 60% in patients who develop Crohn's disease if they receive prolonged treatment with drugs called thiopurines, says a new study.

Crohn's affects more than quarter-of-a-million people in the UK leading to an inflamed intestine.

Researchers from St George's, University of London, St George's Hospital, London and Imperial College, London, monitored more than 5,000 in the UK living with Crohn's disease for more than 20 years and looked at the effect of thiopurine drugs that suppress inflammation in the gut.

Gastroenterologist Dr Richard Pollok, an honorary senior lecturer at St George's, University of London, said "Our discovery is timely since new guidelines from the USA have played down the benefits of these drugs in favour of newer agents.

"A year of treatment with the newer 'biologics', which are administered by injection, cost about £10,000 more compared to thiopurines.

"We try to avoid surgery but some patients face multiple procedures because the disease can flare up again particularly where the intestine has been rejoined.

"The fact that thiopurines can cut the need for surgical intervention and remain affordable is good news for patients and the NHS."

They found patients taking thiopurines, such as Azathioprine, for more than 12 months had a 60% reduction within the first 5 years of diagnosis.

Thiopurines have been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn's disease since the 1970s but their long-term benefits have just come to light.

There has been a major increase in the number of patients who receive these drugs in the past decade and rates of surgery in patients with this condition have dropped, partly as a result of these and other treatments.

But up to a quarter of patients still go on to have their first corrective to remove the worst affected areas within 5 years of being diagnosed.

The study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, was funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

Explore further: Use biologic agents to induce remission in patients with moderately severe Crohn's disease

More information: Chatu S, Saxena S, Subramanian V, Curcin V, Yadegarfar G, Gunn L, Majeed A, Pollok R.C. The Impact of Timing and Duration of Thiopurine Treatment on First Intestinal Resection in Crohn ' s Disease: National UK Population-Based Study 1989 – 2010 Am J Gastroenterol 28 Jan 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2013.462

Related Stories

Use biologic agents to induce remission in patients with moderately severe Crohn's disease

December 17, 2013
The anti-TNF-α biologic agents, such as infliximab or adalimumab, are recommended to induce remission in patients with moderately severe Crohn's disease , according to a new guideline from the American Gastroenterological ...

Scientists identify possible key to drug resistance in Crohn's disease

January 8, 2014
Two-thirds to three-quarters of the estimated 700,000 Americans living with Crohn's disease, an autoimmune condition that can disrupt the entire gastrointestinal tract, will require surgery at some point during their life. ...

IBD patients face increased skin cancer risk

November 21, 2011
Certain patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may have an increased risk of skin cancer, which is intensified by the use of immunosuppressant medications , according to two new studies in Gastroenterology, the official ...

New research finds that enzyme is absent in Crohn's disease sufferers

September 18, 2013
Royal Veterinary College researcher Dr David Bishop-Bailey, alongside collaborators from University College London, Queen Mary University London, the University of Umeå and the National Institute of Environmental Health ...

Bowel cancer patients miss out on life-saving liver surgery

October 29, 2013
Bowel cancer patients whose disease has spread to the liver are not being referred to specialists for potentially life-saving surgery, according to research published in the British Journal of Surgery.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.