Johan Burisch is a gastroenterologist in training who is currently working in Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focusses on IBD epidemiology. He works with both population-based cohorts of patients and the Danish national patient registries. Furthermore, he is involved in developing eHealth solutions for self-monitoring in IBD. He has authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers on IBD epidemiology as well as several book chapters. In 2019, he was awarded the UEG Rising Star award. He has been Y-ECCO Chair since 2020.
The anti-tumour necrosis factor monoclonal antibody infliximab is one of the most widely used therapies for corticosteroid-refractory Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Long-term use of infliximab is associated with an increased risk of adverse events such as malignancies and infections, which is particularly concerning for those on concurrent immunosuppressive medications such as corticosteroids, thiopurines or calcineurin inhibitors [1–3]. With the number of patients with UC on long-term infliximab therapy continuing to rise, an important clinical question to address is whether these patients remain in remission upon discontinuing infliximab. Prospective studies have evaluated discontinuation of infliximab in patients with Crohn’s Disease, with deep (i.e. clinical, biological and endoscopic) remission thought to have a lower risk of relapse, but the evidence for patients with UC is limited to retrospective studies [4–6]. The HAYABUSA study aimed to address this issue with a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate discontinuing infliximab in patients with UC in remission.
Approximately 25% of patients with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) require admission to hospital for acute severe (ASUC) or refractory disease, with one-third suffering from multiple episodes . The mainstay of initial anti-inflammatory treatment remains corticosteroids, following the seminal report from Truelove and Witts in the BMJ in 1955 [2, 3]. Here, 210 patients were randomised to standard care with oral cortisone or placebo. Significant benefit was demonstrated in the cortisone group, particularly in those at index presentation and those who had mild UC. At follow-up to 2 years, 21.5% had undergone surgery.
It is interesting that acute colectomy rates remain approximately 20% despite improvements in overall care and infliximab or ciclosporin ‘rescue’ therapy [1, 3]. The CONSTRUCT trial, reported in 2016, demonstrated no significant difference in the frequency of colectomy between these rescue medications, with surgery required in roughly 40% of steroid-refractory patients within one year.
The year is slowly coming to an end and we can start looking forward to 2022 and hopefully returning to our normal, pre-COVID existence. Next year’s ECCO Congress will be among the first major scientific meetings within our specialty to have physical attendance. I’m sure you are all looking forward to meeting colleagues and friends in real life as much as I am. Don’t forget to sign up for our Basic Science Workshop!
Maria T Abreu, MD, is the Martin Kalser Endowed Chair in Gastroenterology, a Professor of Medicine, a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Director of the Crohn's and Colitis Center at the University of Miami.
Endoscopic grading of the severity of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a critical component of disease assessment and particularly important for guiding therapy. Despite the availability of numerous scoring systems, such as the Mayo Endoscopic Score (eMS) and the Ulcerative Colitis Endoscopic Index of Severity (UCEIS), widespread use in routine clinical practice is often limited, primarily due to inter-observer variability and lack of training for standardised use [1,2].
Infection with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 leading to coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has a broad spectrum of clinical presentations and disease severity. A number of host and viral factors contribute to this heterogeneity in presentation and severity, including the host immune response . Given that immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) including Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), are characterised by immune dysregulation and use of biologic or immunosuppressive therapies, COVID-19 presents a particular challenge.
Acute Severe Ulcerative Colitis (ASUC) is a medical emergency which affects about 25% of UC patients at least once in their lifetime . Corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for ASUC; however, 30%–40% of patients do not respond and eventually need medical rescue therapy or surgery .Medical rescue therapy (in the form of ciclosporin or infliximab) can be costly and its use can be limited by side effects. Therefore, there is a need for safe and low-cost therapy which can augment the effect of corticosteroids to induce and maintain remission.
Due to the pandemic, we unfortunately were unable to meet and interact physically in the usual way during our most recent Y-ECCO Basic Science Workshop. However, this is exactly what Y-ECCO is about: connecting people, colleagues and friends, clinicians and scientists in order to bring basic science from the bench to the bed, and back. Every year, the Y-ECCO Committee invites outstanding senior experts to give a state-of-the-art overview on hot topics in the IBD field. Furthermore, these top-notch speakers not only moderate the discussions that follow abstract presentations but also inspire and stimulate young researchers and clinician-scientists at the start of their careers. Although this year’s workshop was virtual, we succeeded in continuing our interactive format, with excellent talks and many questions via the virtual platform chat.
I personally found it very well organised and without major technical problems. And the programme was once again fantastic! As always, it was great to witness the many dedicated and brilliant researchers/physicians who work towards improving the care of IBD patients. But let’s hope that this is the last time that we cannot meet in person.