Crohn's disease: a review of current treatment with a focus on biologics

Drugs. 2007;67(17):2511-37. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200767170-00005.


Crohn's disease is a debilitating and expensive disease that is growing in incidence in both developing and developed countries. While conventional therapies, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, continue to play a vital role in treating this condition, it is evident that many affected individuals do not respond to therapy or develop intolerable adverse effects. The addition of modern biological therapies to the Crohn's disease armamentarium is providing a change in expectations for disease outcome. Infliximab and adalimumab are currently the only biological agents approved for induction and maintenance treatment in adults (infliximab and adalimumab) and children (infliximab) with Crohn's disease. Furthermore, infliximab has a beneficial effect on perianal fistulas. Other tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha inhibitors, such as certolizumab pegol, also demonstrate promising results in adults with moderate to severe active disease. In addition, adalimumab and certolizumab pegol have shown clinical efficacy in patients who are intolerant to or lose response to infliximab, suggesting that switching between agents may allow response to be maintained over time. The primary safety concerns with TNFalpha inhibitors include increased risk of serious infection (including reactivation of tuberculosis), malignancy (particularly lymphoma) and demyelinating disease. Other agents in development include recombinant human anti-inflammatory cytokines, agents that target pro-inflammatory cytokines and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors. Further prospective studies will provide interesting insight into different mechanisms by which factors involved in the pathophysiology of Crohn's disease can be modulated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / therapeutic use*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Immunological


  • Antibodies
  • Biological Products
  • Biomarkers