1.4 million Americans live with Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease is usually diagnosed between the age 15-30. Additionally, 5-20% of individuals with Crohn’s have a family history of the disease.
Though the cause is unknown, we know the symptoms are caused by a hyperactive immune system attacking the gut. Crohn’s may involve any part of the GI tract, but usually the distal small bowel (ileum) and the colon.
Symptoms vary depending on the section of the gut involved, but usually include:
- Diarrhea (with possible constipation)
- Rectal bleeding if colon is involved
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Complications include obstructions, fissures in the rectum, fistulas, cancer and perforation. Crohn’s may also involve areas outside the GI tract such as eyes, skin, kidney stones and joints. There is no current cure, but patients may go into remission with medication.
There are several different treatments including:
- 5 ASA (special aspirin)
- Immune modifiers (imuran, 6MP)
- Biologics (Remicaid, Humira)
Surgery is a last resort since many patients have recurrent disease despite surgery. Most drugs suppress the immune system with increased risk of infection and cancer.
We are studying 2 new types of treatment:
- Triple antibiotics designed to kill MAP bacteria that may be the cause of Crohn’s in some patients.
- New type of oral treatments that will normalize the immune system rather than suppress it.
To see if you qualify for one of our enrolling studies, visit our website here, contact us at 423-698-4584.
Posted on February 7, 2017
Fighting Crohn’s Disease
Several treatments exist including non-drug treatments, and new research is under way
Do you have or know someone with Crohn’s disease? We would like to show you why we need research to discover better treatments.
About Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can involve any part of the GI tract, but is most common in the distal small bowel (ileum). It can also affect eyes, skin, liver and joints (it is a system disease). There are 700,000 people with Crohn’s in the USA. Most Crohn’s cases often start between ages 15-35.
The exact cause of Crohn’s is unknown, but may be a combination of factors (genetics, environment and an overactive immune system). The immune system is your body’s way of fighting infection. In Crohn’s, something triggers the immune system to overreact and release chemicals that promote inflammation. Risk factors include smoking or living in an industrialized nation. Being white and having a Jewish heritage.
Symptoms may vary dependent on its location, but it usually causes abdominal pain, fever, weight loss, loss of appetite and loss of energy. If the colon is involved, there is diarrhea with blood and pain. If the small bowel is involved, there is weight loss, possible obstruction and abdominal pain. 70% of patients eventually need surgery. Complications include perforation of the bowel, small bowel obstruction, fistulas connecting bowel to bladder, vagina, skin and adjacent bowel, and increased risk of colon cancer.
Crohn’s disease can be diagnosed by colonoscopy, CAT Scan, MRI, capsule endoscopy (swallow a small capsule that transmits pictures of the small bowel). There are also blood tests and stool studies. There are many different ways to treat Crohn’s, but they usually suppress the immune system resulting in possible infection and higher risk of cancer. Non drug treatment could include avoiding NSAIDS (Motrin, etc.) and avoiding high fiber if small bowel is involved. Some patients do better avoiding dairy products, gluten and limiting alcohol and caffeine.
Current treatments include:
- Oral 5 amino salicylates (Azulfidine, Asacol, Pentasa, Lialda, etc.)
- Immuno-suppressants (imuran and 6MP)
- TNF inhibitor (biologics) such as remade, Humira and Cimzia
- Entyvio (work on cells lining the gut to reduce lymphocyte migration and thus reduce inflammation)
- Stellar (inhibits IL12 and IL23 blocking inflammation cascade)
- Antibiotics (Flagyl, Cipro)
- Non prescription antidiarrheal, vitamins, supplements and probiotics
Our new treatment includes:
- Triple antibiotic to treat MAP (a bacteria similar to TB) that could be the trigger in some people causing Crohn’s
- Antisense drug to normalize rather than suppress the immune system
To check for new and existing clinical trials, check our enrolling studies page.
There is no cure, but—with treatment—Crohn’s can go into remission.