Over a million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Now, there is a new therapy for people who have tried everything.
Megan Johnson was wheelchair-bound for a time. She has ulcerative colitis, causing her to suffer from constant diarrhea, bleeding, malnutrition and severe pain.
“I just said ‘if this is my life, then I don’t want it,’” Johnson said. “It’s too miserable. “
Doctors even suggested removing her intestines. Luckily, she found gastroenterologist William Sandborn, from the University of California at San Diego.
“It’s always surprising to me, in a way, how much inflammatory bowel disease can impact a patient’s life,” Sandborn said.
With inflammatory bowel disease, immune cells travel to the colon and make chemicals that cause inflammation. Most treatments try to target that inflammation.
But a new therapy called vedolizumab stops the cells before they attack.
"It really acts to stop the diseases before they even start,” Sandborn said.
A study showed that patients who had infusions of vedolizumab every four or eight weeks went into remission.
“I can’t even remember the last time I felt this good,” Johnson said.
Johnson is excited about this new option. She knows every day without pain is a good day.
Another benefit is that the therapy is targeted, so side effects like weight gain, nausea and headaches are less common. The new drug was tested in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It could be approved an available for use in 2014.