MONTREAL (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Vedolizumab, 2 years out from its entry onto the U.S. market as an option for treating adults with inflammatory bowel disease, also has shown early safety and efficacy in 52 pediatric patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Retrospective review of a patients series assembled from three U.S. centers showed 13 (76%) ulcerative colitis patients in remission among 17 treated and followed for 14 weeks, the study’s primary outcome. Among 24 Crohn’s disease patients treated and followed for 14 weeks, 10 (42%) had remissions, Namita Singh, MD , said at the World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

Among all 52 patients in the combined series, including some patients treated and followed out to 30 months, the researchers saw no serious adverse events, no infusion reactions, no serious infections, and no changes in serum albumin or hematocrit. Nine patients stopped vedolizumab treatment because of disease progression during treatment, and three patients required a maintenance dose escalation, with their intravenous infusions increased from every 8 weeks to every 4 weeks.

Treatment with vedolizumab (Entyvio), an anti-integrin with highly gut-specific activity that limits its systemic effects, was especially potent for the five patients in the series who were naive to treatment with an anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agent. All five patients were in remission at 14 weeks, said Dr. Singh, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.

“From this and other data it seems like there is a potential role for vedolizumab as first-line treatment” for selected patients, Dr. Singh said in an interview. “The attraction of vedolizumab is its gut selectivity.”

The American Gastroenterological Association lists vedolizumab as an equal alternative to an anti-TNF agent in its recommended algorithm for treating ulcerative colitis, but vedolizumab is not mentioned in the association’s posted guidance for treating Crohn’s disease. ”Prospective studies are needed” to generate more definitive evidence on how to use vedolizumab, she acknowledged, but added that pediatric gastroenterological societies “need to come up with guidelines on where to place vedolizumab.”Dr. Singh said she discusses with patients and their families the potential risks and benefits of the various treatment options available when inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) doesn’t respond to mesalamine: an anti-TNF agent, an immunomodulator like methotrexate or azathioprine, or vedolizumab. One important issue when deciding which drug class to try first is the cost of treatment and whether it will be covered by insurance.

The combined series included pediatric IBD patients less than 18 years old, with an actual median age of just under 15 years. They had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease for a median of 3 years. The 30 Crohn’s disease patients had received a median of two anti-TNF agents prior to starting vedolizumab, while the ulcerative colitis patients had received a median of one anti-TNF drug before vedolizumab. Three-quarters of the patients received the adult dose of 300 mg per infusion. A fifth of the patients received a dosage of 6 mg/kg, and the remaining patients received 5 mg/kg.

Although the 24 Crohn’s disease patients followed through 14 weeks of therapy had a 42% remission rate, the remission rate jumped sharply to more than 70% among the 11 patients followed to 30 weeks.

One limitation to vedolizumab is its relatively slow onset of action, slower than anti-TNF agents, which makes vedolizumab less suitable for patients with acute, severe colitis, although short-term improvement of acute colitis can be achieved with a corticosteroid when starting a patient on vedolizumab, Dr. Singh said. A trial currently underway is collecting prospective data on vedolizumab in pediatric IBD patients that could result in pediatric labeling for the drug, she added.

Until those data are available, current experience suggests vedolizumab “is good for ulcerative colitis patients,” she said. “Our data encourage us to continue” offering vedolizumab to selected pediatric IBD patients.

Dr. Singh has been a consultant to Janssen and Prometheus and received grant support from Janssen.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler


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