Advances in the Development of Janus Kinase Inhibitors in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Future Prospects
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- Flamant, M., Rigaill, J., Paul, S. et al. Drugs (2017). doi:10.1007/s40265-017-0755-8
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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is caused by a dysregulation of the immune system, inducing the production of proinflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules. A better understanding of the mucosal immune response in IBD has led to the development of new drugs directed at inflammatory cytokines and leukocyte-trafficking molecules. Beyond tumor necrosis factor antagonists and anti-integrin molecules, which act by blocking the interaction between gut-specific lymphocytes and their receptor on vascular endothelium, the Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling pathway represents a new target in IBD. JAK inhibitors are small molecules able to selectively target the activity of specific JAKs that play a role in signal transmission via interleukins. This review presents an overview of the role of the JAK/STAT signaling pathway and updated information for JAK molecules, which are promising drugs in IBD. Currently developed to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, tofacitinib (in a phase III study) and filgotinib (in a phase II study), respectively, are the JAK inhibitors in the most advanced stage of development for IBD. However, the utility of, and adverse events associated with, these new drugs remain to be determined and clarified (in particular, the risk of herpes zoster infections), depending on the efficacy and tolerance determined from definitive studies. The availability of these drugs could enhance the therapeutic approach to IBD in the coming years, and reinforce the concept of personalized medicine for IBD patients.