Background: Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) is thought to have a central role in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease. We tested the hypothesis that CDP571, a genetically engineered human antibody to TNF alpha, is effective in modifying disease activity in patients with moderately active Crohn's disease.
Methods: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 31 patients were randomly assigned to CDP571 (n = 21) or placebo (n = 10). The primary endpoint was change in Crohn's disease activity index 2 weeks after a single infusion of CDP571 (5 mg/kg), or human albumin as placebo. One patient who attended no follow-up assessments was excluded from the analyses (CDP571 group).
Findings: The median Crohn's disease activity index fell from 263 (IQR 186.5-323.5) at baseline to 167 (137.5-294.0) at 2 weeks in the CDP571-treated patients (p = 0.0003); the change in the placebo group (253 [240-334] to 247 [183-256]) was not significant. In the treated group, there were also significant differences between baseline and 2 weeks in Harvey-Bradshaw score (p = 0.0005), key symptom score (p = 0.049), alpha 1-glycoprotein concentration (p = 0.012), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p = 0.01); concentrations of C-reactive protein fell, but not significantly (p = 0.067). Six patients achieved remission (Crohn's disease activity index < or = 150) and three others had activity indices of 156 or lower. There were no significant changes in the placebo group.
Interpretation: A single 5 mg/kg infusion of CDP571 reduced disease activity in Crohn's disease at 2 weeks. These data suggest that antibody neutralisation of TNF alpha is a potentially effective strategy in the management of Crohn's disease. The use of CDP571 in Crohn's disease requires further study.