What is Upadacitinib? Quick Facts about New IBD Treatment

What is Upadacitinib? Quick Facts about New IBD Treatment

Upadacitinib is currently in development with biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, headquartered in North Chicago, Illinois. This investigational oral treatment is being examined in clinical trials as a treatment for a number of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Quick facts about Upadacitinib

Developed by: AbbVie
Code: ABT-494
Conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, axial spondyloarthritis, eczema, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
Drug type: Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. More specifically, upadacitinib is a JAK1-selective inhibitor.
Administration: Oral
How It Works: JAK inhibitors interfere with the immune response by blocking the actions of specific proteins, dampening the response from certain pro-inflammatory cytokines. JAK inhibitor molecules bind to the receptor, blocking the intercellular process that would signal an immune response and inflammation. There are numerous Janus kinases; upadacitinib targets only the JAK1 pathway, which plays an important role in immune disorders.

Upadacitinib Research

Upadacitinib is one of several JAK inhibitors currently in development. These advanced medicines are showing strong clinical performance as well as economic value—JAK inhibitors are thought to have certain advantages over IBD therapies, including oral delivery and a small molecular size, factors that serve to lower production costs. Of course, for IBD patients who are accustomed to injection and infusion IBD treatment options, the oral administration of Upadacitinib offers an additional convenience.

In early 2018, AbbVie reported on an extension of a Phase 2 study called CELEST. The results showed that the Crohn’s patients who had achieved remission after the 4-month induction phase (27% of participants, as compared to 11% in the placebo group) maintained their response over the next 9 months, speaking to the efficacy of the drug over time. This is good news for the patients in the study, many of whom had already tried at least two other immune-modulating Crohn’s disease treatment options without achieving remission.

Upadacitinib Clinical Trials for IBD

Currently, this new IBD treatment is in clinical trials for various conditions. It’s estimated that Upadacitinib will be first approved for psoriatic arthritis in 2019, with approvals for other conditions to follow.

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Crohn's Disease Ulcerative Colitis

Upadacitinib is in Phase 3 clinical trials for Crohn’s disease and is in Phase 2 clinical trials for for ulcerative colitis.

Upadacitinib for Failed Anti-TNF Therapy

As many IBD patients are unfortunately aware, it’s common to try numerous IBD therapies before finding one with positive results—and even then, many patients experience a reduced response to the drug over time.

Along with an examination of the long-term efficacy and safety of this promising new IBD therapy, clinical trials on upadacitinib are measuring the results in patients who’ve had an inadequate response to an immunomodulator treatment or anti-TNF therapy.

Signing up for IBD Clinical Trials: Upadacitinib

In clinical trials, researchers and physicians evaluate the effects of new therapies on patients to assess efficacy, safety, and dosing, among other metrics.

Upadacitinib is in Phase 3 clinical trials for Crohn’s disease, which means that the drug has already been proven as is safe and as having an effect. At this stage, researchers are measuring upadacitinib therapeutic effect on a large number of patients (anywhere between 300 and 3,000) before making it widely available on the market.

Clinical Trials at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Centre

Clinical trials are most often conducted at clinics and hospitals—the same ones that an IBD patient would already be visiting for an appointment with their GI. At Discover Therapies, we inform and connect Crohn’s and colitis patients with a large number of clinical trials across North America.

Currently, the renowned Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire is recruiting for Phase 3 trials for upadacitinib. Clinical trials are conducted under the leadership of prestigious researcher Dr. Corey Siegel, Director of the institution’s Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Centre.

Learn more about this promising new IBD treatment and determine your eligibility for upadacitinib clinical trials by taking a short quiz at Discover Therapies.


Lee, H. S., Park, S.-K., & Park, D. I. (2018). Novel treatments for inflammatory bowel disease. The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine, 33(1), 20–27. http://doi.org/10.3904/kjim.2017.393
Abbvie, Inc. (2018 February 16) AbbVie Announces New Phase 2 Data for Upadacitinib Showing Clinical and Endoscopic Outcomes in Crohn's Disease at 52 Weeks. [Press Relase]. Retrieved from https://news.abbvie.com/news/abbvie-announces-new-phase-2-data-for-upadacitinib-showing-clinical-and-endoscopic-outcomes-in-crohns-disease-at-52-weeks.htm
L.C.S. De Vries, M.E. Wildenberg, W.J. De Jonge, G.R. D’Haens; The Future of Janus Kinase Inhibitors in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Journal of Crohn's and Colitis, 11(7), 885–893 1 July 2017,, https://doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjx003
Atkinson, Helen Parker. 2018. Upadacitinib (ABT-494). IBD News Today. https://ibdnewstoday.com/upadacitinib-abt-494/


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