Letter from the Editor: IBD drugs, ‘liquid biopsies,’ and DDW


The coming months will provide us a welcome relief from health care politics as we turn our attention to the science of medicine. Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) will occur from June 2 to 5 in Washington, DC. Major themes already are emerging and implications for our clinical practices are exciting. In this month’s issue of GI & Hepatology News, we summarize a presentation about the IBD medication pipeline given by Dr. Bill Sandborn (UCSD) at the Crohn’s & Colitis CongressTM (a partnership between the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and AGA, in Las Vegas). The number of medications that will enter clinical practice is impressive and so is the variety of antigen targets. Over the last several decades, we have defined multiple inflammatory pathways that can lead to IBD and developed medications that modify abnormal immune responses. We are entering an era of precision medicine never before seen in our specialty. Most of these biological medications can be given orally or subcutaneously, precluding the need for infusion centers. I anticipate an enormous offering of IBD-related science at DDW®.

Dr. John I. Allen

Dr. John I. Allen

Two other articles this month should be read carefully. “Liquid biopsies” are coming. We know that solid cancers shed DNA into the circulation. We now have molecular tools to identify circulating tumor-related epigenetic and DNA changes at concentrations that are vanishingly low. These methodologies may allow screening for digestive cancers using blood and stool testing at accuracy rates that rival endoscopy – and at reduced cost. Other themes that we will see emphasized at DDW® include the microbiome, telehealth, precision health, and use of “big data” for predictive analysis and risk stratification of patients.

The Board of Editors appreciates the feedback that many of you sent us in our latest readership survey. Each month, we try hard to collect articles of clinical interest to the wide variety of clinicians and researchers that read GI & Hepatology News. We will continue to improve our offerings based on your valuable opinions.

John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF

Editor in Chief

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