Ulcerative colitis is a debilitating autoimmune disease that causes chronic diarrhea. Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have shown that ozanimod (RPC1063), a novel drug molecule, is moderately effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
One of the disease's defining characteristics is an abnormal accumulation of lymphocytes or T-cells in the lining of the gut. This activation of immune cells causes inflammation resulting in chronic, painful bowel movements. To counter this activity, ozanimod, a sphingosime 1-phospahte receptor modulator, halts the body's ability to recruit cells for an immune response.
"This new class of immunotherapy drug traps white blood cells in the lymph nodes to prevent their escape into the gut where they cause inflammation," said William J. Sandborn, professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at UC San Diego Health. "In addition to inducing remission in patients, the experimental drug reduced rectal bleeding and healed the mucosal lining of the intestine."
Patients in the study were randomized to ozanimod 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, or placebo. The most common side effects were anemia and headache.
Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis include intestinal bleeding and weight loss. Bowel obstruction, colon cancer, and malnutrition can also occur, resulting in hospitalization and the possible need for surgical removal of portions of the bowel and colon.