Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition is defined by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, most commonly the end of the small bowel (the ileum) and the beginning of the colon, but it may affect any part of the GI tract. It differs from ulcerative colitis, another IBD, which is limited to the colon (or large intestine). Crohn’s can affect the thickness of the bowel wall, and the inflammation can affect the bowel either in whole or in patches, leaving some normal area.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Crohn’s disease may affect as many as 780,000 Americans, who may experience these telltale symptoms to varying degrees:
• persistent diarrhea
• rectal bleeding
• urgent need to move bowels
• abdominal cramps and pain
• sensation of incomplete evacuation
• constipation (which can lead to bowel obstruction)
The cause of Crohn’s is not known, but research suggests that hereditary, genetic, and environmental factors may contribute to its development. What is known is that chronic inflammation is caused by an immune-system attack on otherwise harmless bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria aid in digestion and attack and kill foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
While some progress is being made in identifying possible targets for treatment, much more research is needed. A variety of medications are currently used to treat Crohn’s, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and immune system suppressors, but no one treatment works for everyone, and some come with the risk of side effects, some severe.
“Chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis have a very significant impact to people’s lives and new, targeted treatments are urgently needed…[N]ew discoveries provide us with vital information to develop new treatment strategies that could lead to a safe and effective way of switching off inflammation for treating disease,” said Dr. Ueli Nachbur, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, who recently published research regarding critical immune pathways.
Increased research funding and participation in clinical studies is the best way to discover new and effective treatments for Crohn’s disease. Meridien Research has studies that are enrolling now. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us at 888.777.8839 or visit our study pages today.