During the last decade a large number of biological agents against tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), as well as many biochemical substances and molecules specifically for the medical treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), have been developed. This enormous progress was a consequence of the significant advances in biotechnology along with the increased knowledge of the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of IBD. However, conventional therapies remain the cornerstone of treatment for most patients. During recent years conventional and biologic IBD therapies have been optimized. Newer mesalazine formulations with a reduced pill size and only one dose per day demonstrate similar efficacy to older formulations. New corticosteroids retain the efficacy of older corticosteroids while exhibiting a higher safety profile. The role of antibiotics and probiotics has been further clarified. Significant progress in understanding thiopurine metabolism has improved the effective dose along with adjunctive therapies. Quite a large number of substances and therapies, including biologic agents other than TNF-alpha inhibitors, unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, microbes and microbial products, leukocytapheresis, and other substances under investigation, could offer important benefits to our patients. In this paper we review the established and emerging therapeutic strategies in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
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