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Crohn's Disease

What Is The Outlook For People With Crohn's Disease?

Last modified: 
21/03/2012 - 13:29

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Every day, scientists are gaining a better understanding of Crohn's disease: its genetic aspects, how the immune system comes to malfunction, and the mechanisms of the relationship between infection and chronic inflammatory disease.

New medical compounds are being tested in clinical trials and promise to provide greater relief with fewer side effects. Surgical techniques continue to be refined, and novel therapies continue to be explored.

For example, a group of researchers has suggested that the eradication (through modern sanitation) of a group of parasites called helminths (worms that live in the intestinal tract) might have led to a situation in which the immune system does not have anything to "practice" on, and so attacks its own bodily organs.

These researchers fed a group of six individuals suffering from flare-ups of Crohn's disease a formula made up of helminths that breed in pig intestines. Five people went into remission, the sixth experienced significant reduction of symptoms. Since these helminths do not breed in the human gut, the researchers could easily determine when the helminths had all been passed from the test subjects' bodies by checking their stool samples. After the worms were gone, all of the test subjects experienced recurrence of their symptoms.

The researchers hope to study groups of individuals who suffer from autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to see if a similar improvement in condition occurs with the helminth treatment.

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Crohn's Disease

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.