Using Cimzia for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease that causes painful arthritis of the spine. In people with this condition, the immune system begins functioning abnormally and starts attacking the spine. This results in pain and stiffness, especially in the lower back. Other ankylosing spondylitis symptoms include changes in vision and possibly problems in the heart, lungs, or digestive system.
Cimzia is approved to treat active ankylosing spondylitis in adults.
Cimzia belongs to a group of drugs called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. There are different types of TNF, and Cimzia binds preferentially to TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is involved in inflammation and other immune system functions. TNF-alpha can contribute to a number of diseases by encouraging inflammation, and people with these diseases often have high TNF-alpha levels. Blocking TNF-alpha helps to decrease the inflammation and to relieve the signs and symptoms of the diseases.
Interestingly, Cimzia is actually a fragment of a human antibody. It is produced in special bacteria that were designed to produce this human antibody fragment. The antibody fragment is then "pegylated," which means it is attached to a polyethylene glycol molecule. This process helps Cimzia stay in the body longer (so it can be taken less often).
Cimzia is not approved for use in children or teens. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using Cimzia in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Cimzia for something other than Crohn's disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Theoretically, Cimzia might be beneficial (and may be tried in an off-label fashion) for treating the following conditions:
- Plaque psoriasis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Behcet's disease (a condition involving chronic inflammation throughout the body)
- Acute graft-versus-host disease (which may occur after a bone marrow transplant).