Drug offers help to kids with Crohn’s disease

For adults with the disorder of the digestive tract known as Crohn’s disease, the drug infliximab can offer relief. However, there were few options to help children with the disorder. Now the same drug may offer help to children who don’t respond to traditional treatments.

At 12, Joe was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an often embarrasing intestinal disorder. “Some abdominal pain, more frequent bowel movements,” says Joe.

Conventional treatment, which included steroids, helped some, but it also caused his face to swell and stunted his growth. Now this 18-year-old college student looks and feels better. He’s four inches taller and doesn’t spend as much time in the bathroom.

Instead of steroids, Joe’s been receiving infusions of an antibody called anti-TNF or infliximab (Remicade). In Crohn’s disease, the protein TNF causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Anti-TNF blocks the protein, stopping the inflammation. The effect lasts up to three months. Then Joe gets another infusion.

The need for people, patients, to be taking steroids is decreased once they start to use this medication.

Joe has had to use steroids once since starting the treatment when he waited too long between infusions. Now he’s fine and having fun like most college kids.

It’s not clear what the long-term effects of the treatment are. Larger studies are also needed to determine how it might be used with other therapies.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

Reported February 7, 2000

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