Biological therapy for inflammatory bowel disease: cyclical rather than lifelong treatment?

BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2024 Feb 10;11(1):e001225.doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2023-001225.


Christian Philipp Selinger 1Konstantina Rosiou 2Marco V Lenti 3


Author information

1Gastroenterology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK christian.selinger@web.de.

2Department of Gastroenterology, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.

3Internal Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treatment was revolutionised with the arrival of biological therapy two decades ago. There are now multiple biologics and increasingly novel small molecules licensed for the treatment of IBD. Treatment guidelines highlight the need for effective control of inflammation and early escalation to advanced therapies to avoid long-term complications. Consequently, a large proportion of patients with IBD receive advanced therapies for a long time. Despite their beneficial risk-benefit profile, these treatments are not without risk of side effects, are costly to healthcare providers and pose a burden to the patient. It is, therefore, paramount to examine in which circumstances a temporary cessation of therapy can be attempted without undue clinical risk. Some patients may benefit from cyclical rather than continuous treatment. This review examines the risk of relapse after discontinuation of advanced therapies, how to identify patients at the lowest risk of relapse and the chance of recapturing response when flaring after discontinuation.

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