Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Can worm eggs cure Chrons?

Yes, I know that it sounds terrible, but a new study will see patients swallowing worm eggs and letting them hatch inside them, with the aim of curing/treating Crohn's disease and colitis, known collectively as inflammatory bowel disease.

They're called "pigwhip worms" to be precise and the participants of the trial will swallow the eggs of these little guys and let them hatch inside says Dr. Ira Shafran who is one of three physicians in the U.S. who will be taking part in this study.

Dr. Shafran went on to say that "The little larvae come out and they make a contact with your intestinal lining that actually turns on an immune response," It is then believed that the worms will actually lessen that immune response and could greatly reduce gastrointestinal issues associated with the disease.

Whilst they are considered parasites to pigs, Dr. Shafran says these worms are harmless to humans and have not shown any side effects in other studies.

In fact, some scientists believe the eradication of worms from human stomachs over the past 50 years may be behind the rise in these conditions. As the number of infections by parasites, such as roundworms and human whipworms, has fallen, the number of people being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease has increased.

"This is not an invasive worm," he says. "It's not toxic to the GI tract and it doesn't cause human disease."

"If we can extract something from earth or nature and harness that naturally occurring species at a lower cost to patients without any safety issues and without altering the immune system, that's a huge development," says Dr. Shafran.

The tests are due to start sometime in November, with the findings due to be announced at a conference in the United States in May.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Chrons Disease & Genetics

Whilst in the past, the search for a cure to Chrons Disease and other irritable-bowel conditions, the medical profession has mostly focused on diet. But recent studies have repeatedly failed to show that foods are to blame.

Researchers are now looking at genetic mutations linked to Crohn's Disease as well as other irritable bowel conditions like ulcerative colitis. They hope to develop a therapy that fixes those mutations in order to actually cure diseases like chrons and ulcerative colitis, rather than just treat the symptoms.

Warren Strober of the the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda has been studying these diseases for over fifteen years and he and other scientists have shown that dozens of genes are linked to Chrons and ulcerative colitis.

His current work centers on developing a stem-cell-based therapy to correct one particular gene mutation for Chrons. Because of the wide variety of mutations it means that there could eventually be a number of different treatments that target patients based on their genetic profiles, this is known as "personalized medicine."

People with Crohn's can suffer from chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, fatigue and sometimes rectal bleeding. They may also have problems absorbing an adequate amount of nutrients from food, particularly if too much of the intestine is removed. The disease can stunt the growth of children.

With irritable-bowel diseases, the immune system attacks harmless bacteria normally found in the gut. This response leads to inflammation of different parts of the digestive tract, which in turn can cause, fissures, abscesses, obstruction and pain.

In Chrons disease the walls of the digestive tract become inflamed, and any part from the mouth through to the large intestine can be affected. Ulcerative colitis is slightly different in that only the lining of the bowel is damaged.

Treatments have improved in recent years and now include powerful, injectable biologic medicines that reduce inflammation, such as Remicade and Humira.

But these are not cures, and not everyone responds to them. In severe cases, patients must undergo surgery sometimes multiple surgeries to remove parts of the bowel or colon that are blocked. For Chrons patients this is necessary more often because it can develop in any part of the gut, inflammation can recur even after surgery in a different segment of the digestive tract. Within 10 years after surgery between 80% and 90% of Chrons patients will have a relapse, according to researchers.

Dr. Strober says he and his colleagues, are moving ahead on research in mice that aims to fix a genetic mutation called NOD2 associated with Crohn's Disease. The idea would be to have the body repair itself by growing the corrected gene using so-called induced pluripotent stem cells.

Stem cells are those that can develop into different types of specialized cells, like heart or muscle cells, and are mostly found in embryos. Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are made by taking adult specialized cells and turning back the clock, engineering them to an earlier stage where they can reproduce again.

With his research they have already worked out how to take cells from the intestine and convert them into iPS cells. The team are now are working on fixing the genetic defect in the iPS cells before testing the therapy in animals.

The biggest challenge with this type of approach that combines genetic information, physical symptoms and biology is actually narrowing down which genetic combinations are critical to which patients.

Other researchers are examining how genetic mutations affect the type of bacteria that are found in the digestive tract. Greater presence of certain types of bacteria may be more likely to trigger an immune response.

Another area of research is looking at understanding how a persons genetic makeup can make them susceptible to certain other Chrons disease triggers like smoking or stress and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Vitamin D could help prevent Chrons Disease

Some recent research carried out by some Canadians at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center seems to show that Vitamin D easily obtainable in supplements or cod liver oil may be able to combat chrons, or even prevent the symptoms that are related to Crohn’s disease.

At first the study was aimed at investigating Vitamin D's potential in treating cancer cells, but the researchers accidentally found that vitamin D had a beneficial effect on two genes that are associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Chrons.

It was discovered that a supplement of vitamin D like what is already found in cod liver oil forced a reaction in the beta defensin 2 and NOD2 genes, which alert cells to the presence of invading microbes. Both Beta-defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease and if NOD2 is deficient or defective, the gene cannot combat microbial attacks in the intestinal tract.

What is really interesting is that this study shows how something as simple as an an over the counter supplement such as Vitamin D could help people defend themselves against Crohn's disease and with it they have potentially found a new treatment for people with Chrons disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases.

The next step for the team is to conduct clinical trials with human participants suffering from the intestinal disorder.

Because Vitamin D supplements and cod liver oil are readily available, "Siblings of patients with Crohn's disease that haven't yet developed the disease might be well advised to make sure they're vitamin D sufficient. It's something that's easy to do, because they can simply go to a pharmacy and buy Vitamin D supplements. The vast majority of people would be candidates for Vitamin D treatment." says Dr. White, an endocrinologist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and leader of the team who made this exciting discovery.

Separate studies have also suggested that vitamin D can help prevent heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

More Information
You can read more information on the study at The McGill University Health Centre Website

Where To Get Vitamin D
I have not thought of this before, but because they are available over the counter, Amazon stock a HUGE range of Vitamin D supplements:

Vitamin D Suppliments on

Or if you prefer, Cod liver Oil:
Cod Liver Oil on

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Womans Weight Loss & Chrons Disease

Samara KempA woman form from Pontypool in Wales with Chrons Disease (Crohn's Disease), the debilitating and incurable inflammatory bowel condition lost a quarter of her body weight and took nine months to get properly diagnosed has decided to help spread the word about it and the other related condition of colitis.

It is said that there are 80,000 people in the UK who have the disease and yet so few people are even ware of the conditions' existence, there is much general ignorance to overcome.

Samara Kemp (24) who now has her Chrons symptoms mostly under control said that before she was diagnosed "Doctors put it down to other things, problems with food, food poisoning. I'd been eight-and-a-half stone and went down to six-and-a-half stone." Along with the weight loss she had symptoms of extreme tiredness.

Eventually the correct diagnosis and similar to what happened to me, came from a private doctor. Chrons Disease often affects the small intestine, causing inflammation, deep ulcers and scarring and typical symptoms include pain, urgent diarrhoea, severe tiredness and loss of weight.

After the diagnosis, she again like I was put on a 6 month course of steroids, daily medication, supplements such as iron and calcium, and a low fibre diet.

"I was close to nine months without a diagnosis and it was a relief at last to know what was wrong," she said.

The severity of symptoms mean Chrons and colitis patients can take over your life with the lack of awareness among most people makes it even more difficult. "There needs to be quicker diagnosis and more awareness. I have trouble getting keys for disabled toilets because people don't believe I am ill," said Ms Kemp, because of this and many other day to day situations that arise because of the disease, it has taken Samara time for her to rebuild her confidence before venturing out regularly.

Samara is now working as a substance misuse and mental health officer, she added: "South Wales Police have been great too, but it's not like that everywhere, and many people suffer in silence."

Currently there is no surgical or medical treatment that can guarantee a complete cure from the condition, however there are treatments available that can effectively treat the symptoms and bring prolonged of relief from a Chrons inflammation.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Chrons Disease and Remicade

So what it Remicade?

  • First off it is important to note that Remicade is the brand name of the generic medication called infliximab.
  • Infliximab (Remicade) is an antibody that attaches to a protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is one of the proteins produced by immune cells during activation of the immune system. TNF-alpha, in turn, stimulates other cells of the immune system to produce and release other proteins that promote inflammation.
  • Remicade is used to treat Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other conditions that cause inflammation.

How Does Remicade help people with Chrons Disease?

  • In Chrons disease, there is continued production of TNF-alpha as part of the immune activation. Remicade (Infliximab) attaches to TNF-alpha and blocks its activity and in so doing decreases the inflammation.
  • So Remicade helps put Crohn's into remission by neutralizing TNF-alpha. Remicade is therefore called a TNF "antagonist" that works with your body's immune system to block TNF-alpha, reducing inflammation
  • It is now generally agreed that people with chrons who respond well to an initial dose of Remicade will typically continue to improve with more treatments. If a patient does not respond to an initial dosage of Remicade, he or she is unlikely to respond with further treatment.
  • The people who respond well to Remicade, the improvements in symptoms can excellent, with rapid healing of the ulcers and the inflammation in the intestines after just one infusion.
  • Remicade has also been shown to be effective for treating anal fistulas.

How is Remicade (Infliximab) Made?

Infliximab is produced by the immune system of mice. The process involves injecting mice with with human TNF-alpha, the mouse antibody then is modified to make it look more like a human antibody, this is done to decrease the chances of an allergic reactions when it is given to humans. This modified antibody is infliximab.

What are the Side effects of Remicade (Infliximab)?

Remicade suppresses the immune system, generally the medication is well tollerated by the body, but it can have serious side effects and patients must be carefully monitored throughout the treatment.
  • Because infliximab is partly a mouse protein, it may induce an immune reaction when given to people with Chrons Diseas, especially with repeated infusions.
  • There is also the possibility of a delayed allergic reaction that occurs a week to ten days after receiving the infliximab.
  • There have been a few cases of side effects during the infusions, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea.
  • Rare cases of nerve inflammation such as inflammation of the nerve of the eye (optic neuritis )
So whilst Remicade represents an exciting new development in the fight against Chrons disease, the long-term safety and effectiveness of infliximab is not yet known.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Chrons Disease and Pregnancy

It was not long ago that women with chrons disease were encouraged against pregnancy, but advances in the knowledge of Chrons disease and it's treatments mean that it is now safer than ever for women with chrons to get pregnant.

Studies have shown that the severity of the Chrons symptoms that are present in the mother at the time conception often continue throughout pregnancy. So if you have Chrons disease and are planning on having a baby the advice is to get the Chron's disease under control and in remission before getting pregnant. This can also give you time to get your body ready for pregnancy as most women even without chrons should do: by increasing the intake of folic acid, quitting smoking, getting more exercise and eating healthier.

Chrons Disease Drugs and Pregnancy
Naturally there are some chrons medications that are best avoided during the pregnancy, but now through research and a history of use, others are considered safe.

What drugs are not safe to take during pregncncy?
Two immunosuppressive drugs that are often used by chrons patients: Methotrexate and thalidomide should not be used during pregnancy. Thalidomide is well known for causing limb defects as well as other major organ complications in an unborn child, whilst the use of Methotrexate should be discontinued at least three months before conception as it has been known to cause abortion and skeletal abnormalities.

What drugs have been deemed safe for use during pregnancy?

So far the research has shown drugs commonly used in the treatment of chrons appear to be safe to take during pregnancy, these include: infliximab (Remicade), azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), adalimumab (Humira) and certolizumab (Cimzia)

A few other drugs that are often used in Chrons disease flare-ups are also safe for pregnant women to use, these include: sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), forms of mesalamine (Asacol, Pentasa, Rowasa) and corticosteroids (Prednisone).

The best advice is to work very closely with your doctor that you are seeing for Crohn's disease as well as your obstetrician and your baby's pediatrician and don't be afraid to ask questions. As it is important point to remember that the biggest factor influencing a healthy pregnancy is the state of the chrons disease activity, so a well planned pregnancy when your chrons is in remission has the greatest chance for the best outcome.

Inflammatory bowel disease should be controlled prior to pregnancy: ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease. (Women's Health).: An article from: Family Practice News

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Children with Chrons Disease & Folic Acid Link

Chemical Structure of Folic AcidIt has been found that Children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), that includes children with chrons and ulcerative colitis have low levels of Folic Acid in their blood, this ads to the theory that people with chrons and ulcerative colitis are lacking in Folate (Folic Acid)

What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid which is also called Folate, Vitamin B9 or Folacin are the types of the water-soluble Vitamin B9. The names of Folate and Folic acid come from the Latin word folium which means leaf.

Why is Folic Acid important?
Vitamin B9 that is essential to numerous bodily functions. It is vitally important during periods of rapid cell division and growth, this includes childhood and when a person is pregnant. Both children and adults require folic acid to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia.

Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco believe that IBD in children may be different from the IBD that affects adults. This discovery was made when they measured blood folate levels in 78 children, nearly half of whom had recently been diagnosed with IBD while the remainder were healthy controls. Folate levels were nearly 20 per cent higher in the IBD group, the researchers found, even though the controls were ingesting around 18 per cent more folate from their diet.

Folic Acid in Foods
Folate is found in leafy vegetables, so things like spinach, turnip greens, lettuces, dried beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate. Liver and liver products also contain high amounts of folate, as does baker's yeast. Some breakfast cereals (ready-to-eat and others) are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid.

Folic acid is added to grain products in many countries, and in these countries fortified products make up a significant source of folate.

Sources: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009; 89: 545-50 & Wikipedia.