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Experimental Drug May Help Crohn's Disease

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May 31, 2006

CHICAGO --- An experimental drug currently under study for Crohn's disease may produce early remission in patients with Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects about 1 million people in the United States and Europe. Currently, Crohn's disease is incurable, although some patients experience long periods of remission.

Alan Buchman, M.D., associate professor of medicine (gastroenterology), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, presented the findings of a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the investigational drug, tuduglitide, at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in Los Angeles on May 22.

Tuduglitide is a compound with a molecular structure similar to that of a naturally occurring substance in humans called GLP-2 that regulates growth, proliferation and maintenance of cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.

Buchman and colleagues studied 100 patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease, evaluating effectiveness of tuduglutide injections compared with effects of a dummy drug. After eight weeks, the researchers found that at week two of the study, nearly 37 percent participants who received the highest dose of teduglutide had remission of symptoms, compared with 17 percent of the group receiving the placebo.

By week eight of the study, 56 percent of participants in the highest dose group experienced relief of symptoms compared with 34 percent of the placebo group. The researchers also found that the experimental drug was well tolerated with no apparent serious side effects. 

“There is an urgent need for new treatment options for patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease who are unable to alleviate its painful and life-altering symptoms,” Buchman said.

This study was sponsored by NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc.