Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been the subject of recent intense research and development. A greater insight into the basic pathological mechanisms of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) has resulted in the emergence of more sophisticated and effective management options. Additionally, established therapies are attracting renewed interest with novel dosage regimens and new formulations offering improved efficacy whilst maintaining an excellent tolerance profile.
High dose 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) has been a focus for investigation in recent clinical trials. The ASCEND study, which compared a 4.8 g/day dose with a 2.4 g/day dose, demonstrated that high dose mesalazine was significantly superior in achieving treatment success and symptom control, whilst maintaining a comparable tolerance and safety profile. The development of biotechnology agents targeted against tumour necrosis factor (TNF) provides promise of new treatment options in both CD and UC. The efficacy of CDP571, adalimumab and certolizumab have been investigated in CD, and infliximab, which is currently approved as an agent in inflammatory and fistulizing CD, has also been recently investigated in UC. Investigational pipeline molecules such as natalizumab, MLN-02, an anti-interleukin 12 antibody and sargramostim, have also shown encouraging results from early studies and are now undergoing evaluation in large clinical trials.