TNF alpha is a substance produced chiefly by activated macrophages. It was originally described as a circulating factor that can cause necrosis of tumours, but has since been identified as a key regulator of the inflammatory response. Infliximab neutralizes the biological activity of TNF-alpha by binding to the soluble and transmembrane forms of TNF-alpha and inhibits binding of TNF-alpha with its receptors.
Remicade is used to treat autoimmune diseases including moderate to severe active Crohn’s disease and moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis in patients who have not been helped by conventional therapy.
Remicade is administered by intravenous infusion over a period of not less than 2 hours. There are two other injectable drugs that block TNF alpha - adalimumab (Humira) and etanercept (Enbrel).
Remicade has a 'Black Box' warning for serious infections and malignancies: it can cause infections caused by viruses, fungi or bacteria, including tuberculosis (TB) and histoplasmosis. For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including Remicade, the chances of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase.