Administration of interferon (IFN)-ß may offer a novel approach to the treatment of ulcerative colitis through its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.
Dr S Nikolaus and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of 18 patients to investigate the efficacy and tolerability of IFN-ß-1a as a treatment of ulcerative colitis.
Patients with moderately active ulcerative colitis were randomized to receive IFN-ß-1a or placebo.
IFN-ß-1a was started at a dose of 22 µg three times a week subcutaneously, and the dose was increased at two-week intervals to 44 µg and then to 88 µg if no response was observed.
| Clinical response was achieved in 50% of patients who received IFN-ß-1a.|
Treatment lasted for no more than 8 weeks.
Clinical response was achieved in 5 out of 10 patients (50%) in the IFN-ß-1a group and in 1 out of 7 patients (14%) in the placebo group.
3 of the patients who received IFN-ß-1a were found to be in remission at post-treatment endoscopy. None of the patients in the placebo group achieved remission.
IFN-ß-1a was well tolerated. Most adverse reactions associated with IFN-ß-1a were influenza-like symptoms or injection site reactions, and were mild or moderate in severity.
The study suggests that IFN-ß-1a may represent a novel treatment for ulcerative colitis. Larger studies will be needed to confirm its efficacy.