Tackling The Burden Of Ulcerative Colitis
Prevention and Treatment With over 125,000 Canadians living with ulcerative colitis, leading expert, Dr. Remo Panaccione, addresses research in Canada and the evolution of treatments in this field.
As Canadians we are defined by many things: cultures, languages and our national sport to name a few. If we wanted to go so far as to name a “national disease,” inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) would be a strong contender.
“While the onset of UC is generally between 15-45 years, it affects people of all ages. There is such a large unmet medical need to help Canadians with this disease which is why it makes sense that Canada is the leader in world-class research for IBD.”
It’s not something that should make us swell with pride as with an Olympic gold, but Canada unfortunately is a world leader in IBD, with one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. IBD results in the intestines becoming inflamed and ulcerated, and is caused by an abnormal immune system response. Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are two separate forms of IBD. The exact cause is unknown and there is no known cure.
Increasing rates of IBD
If we look at UC on its own, over 125,000 Canadians live with this condition. This number is on the rise with 4,500 new cases diagnosed each year.
A leader in Canadian, and indeed international, IBD research is Dr. Remo Panaccione, Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary and Director of the IBD Clinic. “While the onset of UC is generally between 15-45 years, it affects people of all ages. There is such a large unmet medical need to help Canadians with this disease which is why it makes sense that Canada is the leader in world-class research for IBD.”
The University of Calgary IBD Clinic and Clinical Trials Unit is ranked among the top five in the world. In the last three years they have tested three new agents which have been approved or are on the cusp of being approved for the treatment of IBD. The goal is to continue to develop therapies that will improve patients’ quality of life, and allow patients expanded choices.
Improving access to personalized treatment
“We have come a long way in the past 10 or 15 years in our understanding of UC and having additional treatments available has made a large positive impact on the lives of patients and their families,” said Dr. Panaccione. “One of the major objectives of research now is to find treatments that are precise in their action, not only for the disease, but also for the patient.
We’re heading in the direction we want to be which is having the right therapy available for the right patient, given at the right time and in the right manner. IBD is a difficult disease to treat, but we are slowly getting there with more effective and more targeted treatment. The physician community is looking forward to novel agents being available in the near future that will further help treat patients suffering from IBD.”
Dr. Panaccione is encouraged by the significant progress that has been made in IBD in recent years and while there is more work to do, he is very optimistic that good progress will be made.