This Week in Crohn's
This Week in Crohn's

Welcome to This Week in Crohn’s, a weekly roundup of the best blog posts, studies, and news about Crohn’s disease.

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This Week in Crohn’s: September 7, 2012

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FDA Gives Thumbs Up to Study a New Drug That Could Replace Prednisone as a Conventional Treatment for Pediatric Crohn’s

If you mention the words prednisone, most young Crohn’s patients cringe. Some will say, “Been there done that.” Others give in, because they know they need it even though they may not like how they feel while on the steroid. In what looks to be very promising news, Soligenix — a company responsible for development stage biopharmaceuticals — announced that the FDA’s given the green light to its Investigational New Drug (IND) application for SGX203.

 

The Lengths a Mother Will Go for her Child Are Already Extraordinary. For one British Mom to a Crohn’s Patient, the Sky’s the Limit!

The Crohn’s in Childhood Research Association (CICRA) has helped Daisy Armitage immensely since her Crohn’s diagnosis. In a show of support, Daisy’s mother conquered a major fear while jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet to raise money for the charity that has been helping her family — and most importantly her sick daughter get well.

 

Another Week With Pig Whipworms and Crohn’s Making Headlines and It’s Great

New York news station, KMBZ recently reported on Herbert Smith (not his real name) and his affinity for drinking pig whipworm eggs. If you haven’t seen the recent headlines, you may be grossed out. If you have, you may be intrigued. Smith is one of the few people to independently treat their Crohn’s with the parasite that researchers have started to narrow their focus on. "The worst day of your life is to find out there's no known cure," said Smith. "It affects your quality of life in a significant way, and most treatments are subpar.” But as for Smith after swallowing 2,500 worm eggs every two weeks for a total of three months, his symptoms have improved. And in case you are wondering, so have his inflammation markers. Read more about Smith’s battle with Crohn’s and what motivated him to embark on this treatment over eight years ago, (yes eight), here. It’s fascinating!

 

Researchers Are Slowly but Surely Unlocking the Secrets Hidden Within the Human Genome to Help Understand the Inner Workings of Disease

Researchers at the University of Washington have been busy working on a way to map the changes within genes that are associated with over 400 common diseases and clinical traits that affect the circuitry that regulates the human genome. The genome is a region of DNA that is considered to be the center of operation for the genetic system that can turn a gene on or off with the flip of a switch. Now that researchers have mapped these changes out, they were able to uncover links that were previously unsuspected to genes and the diseases. The goal for this research is to help doctors treat pin point the type of cells or tissue that need to be treated and how.

And for patients with Crohn’s disease, good news! The genetic variants most commonly associated with Crohn's were found to be concentrated in the in two specific subsets of immune cells, which are located in the regulatory regions the researchers have already mapped out.

 

Did You Know You Have Junk DNA and the Answer to Crohn’s Could Lie There?

Going back to the word genome again, the researchers involved with the Encode Project have mapped the human genetic system. They have found that far fewer genes than first thought were needed to build and operate a body. With that in mind, researchers still delved into that excess “junk” DNA and found some interesting results that could have positive implications for people with Crohn’s, as well as other diseases. They will be able to zero-in on the glitch within DNA that makes someone susceptible to the disease.

NBC’s Today Show’s blog, todayonline.com, gave a pretty darn good explanation of what junk DNA is and how irregular functioning genes are being found to affect  the immune system leading to diseases such as Crohn’s, diabetes, cancer, and more.

 

Pig Whipworms, We Can’t Stay Away From Them… A Colorado Company Announces Its Development of a Pig Whipworm Treatment for Crohn’s and Other Auto-Immune Disorders

Coronado Biosciences’ announcement of its newly developed pill containing porcine (pig) whipworm parasite is pretty good news for the squeamish. This is largely in part, because the few people who have publically come out about their self-treatment using the pig whipworm eggs for Crohn’s disease (based off of recent findings) have swallowed a salty-tasting solution containing the larva. Having a pill to swallow will help squeamish patients think of the treatment more like taking a probiotic than anything.

This article is a fantastic read, as the folks at Healthcare-Today.co.uk give a good summary of Dr. Joel Weinstock’s Crohn’s and pig whipworm research (we mentioned his research last week). And they also help break down the science behind the use of the pig whipworm eggs themselves, explaining “The whipworm eggs cannot take hold in humans, only in pigs…”  They continued, “But they appear during that time to have the ability to modulate the immune system of someone suffering from one of the dozens of disorders that prompt the human immune system to attack the body's own tissues.”

 

FDA Approves New Drug to Help IBS and Chronic Constipation

Most don’t associate constipation with IBD, or IBS for that matter, but on the other side of the spectrum lays the part of the disease that can cause ruptures and sepsis. Damaging inflammation can lead to strictures (narrowing of the intestine), which cause waste to bulk up and back up. This process can lead to ulcerations, tearing, infection and potentially death. As you can see, constipation is no laughing matter. For many suffering from chronic constipation, newly approved Linzess may hold the key to relief.

 

Stem Cell Treatment Could Be the Future for Crohn’s Disease Treatment

Once you get past the investment jargon written into this article, you will find the underlying theme to be something very exciting — successful stem cell treatments being conducted. The article kicks off with the treatment of an ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease) patient receiving stem cell therapy at Emory University; the patient is on his second round. After receiving the first round and doctors found he had success in terms of the disease halting its rapid progression, doctors moved forward with a second round of treatment.

What does this mean for Crohn’s disease? The more successes found with stem cell therapies, the more credence the medical community can put into the use of stem cells to treat auto-immune diseases. Two companies in particular to keep an eye on when looking for advances in Crohn’s treatment are Athersys and Pfizer. The two companies have partnered up to develop and commercialize a variant of MultiStem (a stem cell therapy used to help stop the damage caused by a stroke) to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

 

Let a Football Fundraiser in the UK Inspire Your Crohn’s Fundraising Efforts

The mother of a 13-year-old Crohn’s patient organized a fun day of football to raise money for a local hospital. The mother, Sharron Howard explained to the Daily Gazette how her daughter Alisha, who has UC, has suffered over the past couple of years. So in an effort to give back to the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity that has helped her and her daughter out, Howard created a day of football games, beat the goalies and a mini fair to raise funds that will go toward new equipment at their local hospital.

What kind of fundraising ideas do you think you can spin off from this story?

 

A Recent Study of Mice With Gut Infections Leads Researchers to an Interesting Hypothesis — the Infection May Be a Precursor to the Onset of IBD

It’s important to stress that researchers have not proved there is in fact a link between gut infections and the development of IBD, but they have found corroborating evidence to continue researching this theory. Researchers are finding evidence, of what many in the scientific and patient community have long suspected — the immune system doesn’t differentiate between good bacteria and bad; its job is to destroy bacteria.

This article is another must read, as it gives a glimpse into the inner workings of the immune system, biology and the implications of how one small move can potentially lead to Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

 

Rebecca Kaplan Gives a Glimpse Into the Life of Wife Caring for a Husband With Crohn’s Disease

Realistic. Warm. Slightly graphic, but very necessary. Writer Rebecca Kaplan’s summary of being there for her husband through the trials of his Crohn’s disease is something that all care takers should read. She guides you through her and her husband’s journey with the disease in a very realistic light. Kaplan describes the procedures, what she witnessed, as well as the outcomes. And for now there is a happy ending, but she is realistic that there may come a time where another emergency will arise. This is a good reminder for caretakers that being prepared and aware is key in potentially getting your loved one in front of a medical professional before something goes awry.

You can follow Kaplan on Twitter @caringforcrohns

 

The Coriell Institute Describes Crohn’s Disease, How It Works, and Risks on YouTube

Lasting a little over 6 minutes, this video dives into the different causes of Crohn’s disease and how it works. They also explain that you cannot receive a Crohn’s diagnosis via genetic testing, rather they can show if you are at a higher risk for developing the disease. The infographics during the first four minutes are especially helpful for you as a patient to show someone you know to inform them more about the disease. The last two minutes of the video speak to the genetic links and genetic testing for Crohn’s.

 

Mental Health Is Just as Important as Your Gut’s Health — Take a Survey to Help the Mental Healthcare Community Understand the Mental Side of Chronic Illness

Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gbmibd and take a quick-moving, 7-question-long survey. The survey is to help improve the treatment provided by mental health practitioners to patients suffering from chronic diseases such as IBD.

Who doesn’t love a survey? If you’re worried about confidentiality, it’s all anonymous. Plus, you’re doing something good for the community.

 

Marketwatch Gives a Realistic Glimpse into the Realities of Pharmaceutical Pricing, but Also a Surprising Twist — Your Doctor Cares More About Your Health Not Lining Big Pharma’s Pockets

According to one of the leading pharmaceutical research companies in the U.S., Decision Resources, “when evaluating the most important attributes for emerging therapies for Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) to be prescribed instead of anti-TNFs agents, more gastroenterologists cite higher rates of induction and maintenance of remission than fewer restrictions from managed care organizations (MCOs) and equal or better tier position compared with the anti-TNFs. Did you get all that? In essence, newer drugs typically cost more and doctors are trying to provide patients with treatments they will be able to maintain. So in order to get doctors to prescribe them over treatments such as Humira and Remicade the price will need to come down.

Another interesting outcome of this press release that is worthy of highlighting are the expected launches of two biologic treatments and one novel oral drug. The launches are expected to take place within the next four years

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