Biologics are the newest group of Crohn's disease treatments. Unlike corticosteroids, which suppress the entire immune system, biologics are a newer, nonsteroid group of medications that act selectively.
Biologic medications contain special antibodies that can seek out and bind to specific substances in the body, including enzymes and proteins that are problematic in people with Crohn's disease. By suppressing the body’s immune response, biologic treatments help reduce inflammation.
Here's an overview of some biologic treatments for Crohn's disease:
TNF Inhibitors, or Anti-TNFs
In the late 1990s, a class of biologics known as anti-TNFs, or TNF inhibitors, was introduced for use in moderate to severe Crohn's disease in patients who didn't respond to conventional treatments.
Blocking TNF-alpha, one protein involved in triggering inflammation that often leads to painful, inconvenient symptoms, may be effective in relieving some Crohn's symptoms. TNF inhibitors may be given intravenously at your doctor's office while others are given as injections.
Integrin Receptor Antagonists
Integrin receptor antagonists are another recent development in biologic Crohn's treatments. Unlike TNF inhibitors, these Crohn's treatments work by binding to particular cells in the bloodstream that are key players in inflammation.
Integrin receptor antagonists can be given by IV infusion for moderate to severely active Crohn’s patients who can't tolerate or who have had an inadequate response to both conventional therapies and TNF inhibitors.
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As all biologic medications may carry serious safety risks such as serious infections, please be sure to discuss all risks and benefits with your doctor.