The limitations of current therapy in peptic ulcer disease.
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The current therapeutic approach to peptic ulcer disease includes agents that reduce gastric acidity and hence peptic activity, inactivate or adsorb pepsin, create a physical barrier against the effects of acid and pepsin, or enhance mucosal defence. Profound gastric acid reduction may predispose to infection, and it has been suggested that carcinogenesis is possible, although a cause-effect relationship has never been established. The side-effects of therapy are well-described, and may limit the therapeutic approach. Healing rates correlate closely with acid suppression in duodenal ulcer, but not entirely in gastric ulcer. Maintenance therapy lowers the relapse rate, but does not alter the ulcer diathesis. The optimal strategy for long-term management remains unclear, but in the future one should consider outcome measures which include a decrease in pain, improvement in the quality of life, reduction work loss, and a reduction of complications, in addition to ulcer healing. The ideal therapy should be efficacious, safe, and convenient--with no side-effects--and cost-effective. New agents should suppress acid and peptic activity, while enhancing the gastric mucosal defence mechanisms (such as mucosal blood flow, mucus, and bicarbonate secretion) and stimulating gastric cellular regeneration and restitution.
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