Those Who Sought Advanced Treatment For Crohn’s Disease Fare Much Better


Infliximab administration occurs via infusion within a hospital environment. According to a recent study, initiating infliximab treatment immediately after diagnosis yields superior outcomes compared to delaying its administration.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Initiating infliximab (Remicade) promptly following a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease led to remission in 80 percent of patients within one year, a stark comparison to the 15 percent remission rate observed in individuals administered corticosteroids (steroids).
  • This study prompts a reconsideration of the conventional treatment approach for newly diagnosed Crohn’s disease, which traditionally commences with steroid therapy.
  • Presently, physicians commonly reserve infliximab for patients who exhibit poor responses to steroid treatment.

A recent study suggests that individuals newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease may experience more manageable symptoms if they promptly commence treatment with the injected medication infliximab (commonly known as Remicade). This finding underscores the potential benefits of early intervention with this specific drug.

In this study, researchers conducted a randomized trial involving 386 participants diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. These individuals were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group followed the conventional standard of care, which typically involves initiating treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, while the other group immediately began treatment with infliximab. Infliximab is an injected medication often reserved for patients who do not respond well to standard care.

After one year, the results revealed a significant disparity in the outcomes between the two groups. Remarkably, 80 percent of the participants who received infliximab shortly after their diagnosis achieved remission, as evidenced by laboratory tests indicating a notable reduction in inflammation. In contrast, only 15 percent of the patients who received standard care attained remission within the same timeframe.

These findings, published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, underscore the potential advantages of initiating treatment with infliximab promptly upon diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Early intervention with this medication appears to offer a more effective approach to managing symptoms and achieving remission compared to the conventional standard of care. This highlights the importance of timely and targeted therapeutic strategies in improving outcomes for individuals with Crohn’s disease.

“As soon as a patient is diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, the clock is ticking — and has likely been ticking for some time — in terms of damage happening to the bowel, so there’s a need to start on an advanced therapy such as infliximab as soon as possible,” said lead study author Nurulamin Noor, PhD, of the department of medicine at the University of Cambridge in England, in a statement recently made.

Early Treatment With Infliximab Leads to Better Management

Traditionally, people who started taking infliximab any time within the first two years after they were diagnosed were considered “early” users of this Crohn’s disease medicine, Dr. Noor shared in the statement. “We’ve shown that by treating earlier, we can achieve better outcomes for patients,” Noor then added.

Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, manifests through inflammation and tissue damage in the digestive tract, posing significant challenges to affected individuals. Its symptoms range from abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, to weight loss, often necessitating surgical interventions to address gastrointestinal damage. In severe cases, complications like intestinal ruptures or colon cancer can pose life-threatening risks.

Among the treatments available, Infliximab, belonging to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers family, stands out. It operates by inhibiting TNF, a key protein responsible for inflammation. Despite its efficacy, its usage is accompanied by an elevated risk of infections, prompting physicians to explore alternative medications for Crohn’s disease management before considering Infliximab.

Interestingly, a recent study shed light on the use of Infliximab at the onset of Crohn’s disease diagnosis. Contrary to expectations, the research revealed no significant variance in infection risks between individuals who commenced Infliximab treatment immediately and those who opted for standard care protocols.

Moreover, the study underscored Infliximab’s superiority over conventional treatments, not solely based on laboratory tests assessing inflammation markers but through broader clinical evaluations. This suggests a more comprehensive efficacy beyond mere suppression of inflammation, positioning Infliximab as a valuable therapeutic option for early intervention in Crohn’s disease management.

Starting Infliximab Immediately Brought About Endoscopic Remission

After a year of treatment, researchers utilized endoscopes, specialized cameras, to meticulously examine the digestive tract. Their findings revealed that 67 percent of individuals undergoing infliximab treatment attained endoscopic remission, characterized by the absence of visible sores, a significant marker of disease control.

Moreover, the study uncovered additional benefits associated with infliximab therapy. Participants reported experiencing less disruption to their quality of life following their Crohn’s disease diagnosis, a crucial aspect in managing chronic conditions. Furthermore, individuals receiving infliximab treatment exhibited a reduced frequency of hospitalizations during the initial year of therapy. Notably, the need for urgent abdominal surgery was strikingly lower among those on infliximab, with less than 1 percent requiring such intervention, compared to approximately 5 percent among those receiving standard care.

These findings underscore the efficacy of infliximab in achieving endoscopic remission, enhancing quality of life, and minimizing the need for hospitalization and surgical interventions in individuals with Crohn’s disease.

“This study shows what a dramatic difference early treatment with advanced therapy can make to newly-diagnosed patients,” Ruth Wakeman, director of services, advocacy, and evidence at Crohn’s and Colitis UK, said in the statement.

“People with Crohn’s don’t want to be stuck in hospital or having surgery, they want to be out in the world, living their lives,” Wakeman also said. “Anything that speeds up the path to remission can only be a good thing.”