Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis Patients Hospitalized for Moderate to Severe Flares: A Phase 3 Multi-Center, Randomized, Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled Trial

Project: Research project

Project Details


Ulcerative colitis is one of the most expensive medical conditions in the United States, with a considerable amount of these costs being incurred during hospitalizations for acute flares. A substantial proportion of ulcerative colitis patients hospitalized for acute flares will fail to respond to intravenous steroids and require second line therapies such as biologics and/or colectomy, which can be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Ulcerative colitis patients who are hospitalized or have recently been hospitalized for acute flares are excluded from traditional phase 2 and 3 drug development trials because of how high risk they are for progression to colectomy or re-admission. Novel, safe, and effective treatments are needed to optimize outcomes in this high-risk orphan population. A hallmark of ulcerative colitis is chronic intestinal mucosal hypoxia and inflammation, with an accompanying dysfunction in hypoxia response pathways and preferential activation of pathogenic immune cells including neutrophils. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure to increase tissue oxygenation. In a phase 2 trial program we demonstrated that this increased oxygenation of mucosal tissue leads to improvements in disease activity in ulcerative colitis, reductions in inflammatory markers, and prevention of progression to biologics or colectomy during hospitalizations for acute flares. In the current proposal we aim to 1) confirm the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on disease outcomes in ulcerative colitis patients hospitalized for acute flares through a multi-center, double-blind, sham-controlled, clinical trial. We further aim to explore the mechanisms through which hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves disease activity by studying the hyperbaric oxygen specific effects on 2) neutrophils and epithelial cells, and 3) the microbiome. Confirmation of treatment efficacy for hyperbaric oxygen therapy would bring forward a novel therapy for a high-risk population of ulcerative colitis patients who are traditionally excluded from traditional clinical trial programs, while also advancing our understanding of disease pathogenesis and the interplay between hypoxia, the immune system, and the microbiome.
Effective start/end date3/15/232/29/28


  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (1U01DK134321-01)


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