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Aggressive Therapy for Crohn's Disease Produces Better Outcomes
Date:2/22/2008

International study found remission occurred faster, more often with immunosuppressive drugs

FRIDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Treating Crohn's disease more aggressively resulted in better outcomes for patients, an international team of researchers reports.

Using more than one immunosuppressive drug shortly after a person was diagnosed with the disease was more effective in inducing remission than starting patients on corticosteroids, according to the study in the Feb. 23 issue of The Lancet.

"One swallow doesn't make a spring," said study co-author Dr. Brian Feagan, referring to the fact that clinical practice is rarely modified based on just one study. "[But] this is provocative in the sense that it's saying, if you treat patients earlier with more aggressive therapy that may be better than the conventional approach. There will need to be other studies."

"It is an exciting development," added one expert, Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. "We're always looking for ways to avoid steroids."

Crohn's disease involves an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that most often affects the lower part of the small intestine. Swelling leads to pain and diarrhea.

"We don't really know the cause, but the current wisdom is [that] you've lost tolerance to normal bacteria in the gut. Normally, you have to get along with bacterial cells, because there are so many of them," explained Feagan, director of Robarts Clinical Trials at Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. "The immune system is in a controlled inflammatory state. In Crohn's disease, it's thought that the immune system is becoming unhappy with normal flora. White blood cells migrate into the tissue and release nasty things and cause damage."

Currently, standard treatment for Crohn's patients starts with cor
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