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Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;3(4):239-58. doi: 10.1177/1756283X10373176.

Anti-adhesion molecule therapy for inflammatory bowel disease.

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Professor of Medicine, Head of Division of Gastroenterology, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1.


Although biologic agents directed against tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) continue to be an effective therapeutic strategy for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), approximately 30% of patients with Crohn's disease (CD) who are refractory to standard treatment do not respond to induction therapy with TNFα inhibitors and, of those who initially respond, 50% or more cease to respond within a year. Moreover, their use can be associated with significant safety issues. Clearly, there is a need to target alternative pathways involved in the inflammatory process. IBD is driven by the trafficking of lymphocytes from the circulation into the gut tissue that is mediated by adhesive interactions between the lymphocytes and endothelial cells. The adhesion molecules involved represent attractive targets for the development of new therapeutics which should aid in the resolution of existing inflammation, prevent recurrence of inflammation, and may potentially lead to long-term control of disease. In this article we review current opportunities and challenges facing anti-adhesion therapy in IBD, and discusses recent clinical development efforts that have focused on having an impact on two particular adhesive interactions: α(4)-integrin/MAdCAM-1 and β(2)-integrin/ICAM-1. Of particular interest is natalizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against human α(4) integrin that is approved for the treatment of patients with moderately-to-severely active CD and evidence of active inflammation. This agent represents an efficacious therapeutic option for patients who do not respond to, or have failed, a TNF-α inhibitor.


Crohn’s disease; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis

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