The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended Janssen’s Ustekinumab for the treatment of patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease.

Also known as Stelara, ustekinumab is recommended for routine National Health Service (NHS) use as an option for treating the disease in adult patients who have had little or no response, or intolerance to existing therapies.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive system, with symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and fatigue.

NICE health technology evaluation centre director professor Carole Longson said: “We are delighted to be able to recommend ustekinumab for routine NHS use.

“Crohn’s disease can have a debilitating impact on a person’s quality of life, from self-esteem through to experiencing regular relapses.

“Ustekinumab provides a convenient and viable option for patients with Crohn’s. It is a new way of treating the disease compared to conventional treatment, and can be used where other options have already been tried and stopped working.”

Already recommended by NICE for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis treatments, ustekinumab is a new human monoclonal antibody treatment that binds to specific proteins on cells known as IL-21 and IL-23.

"Ustekinumab provides a convenient and viable option for patients with Crohn’s."

This helps stop the production of cytokines that cause the inflammatory response inside the human body.

Crohn’s disease follows an unpredictable pattern of remission and relapse, thereby significantly affecting the patient’s everyday life.

Evidence revealed that ustekinumab enhances the quality of life and is well tolerated amongst patients with the disease.

If NICE recommends ustekinumab 'as an option' in final guidance, the NHS will have to ensure that the treatment is available within three months of its date of publication.

Image: Stomach cramps in Crohn’s disease. Photo: courtesy of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.