A New Approach for Crohn's
mp3 | wma | wav

Crohn's disease causes abdominal pain and crampingTrying to find a restroom when you’re out can be a hassle, but if you have Crohn’s disease, it’s an emergency. That’s why several states now have laws requiring stores to open their employee restrooms to Crohn’s patients when there’s not a public one.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammation of the gut, especially the large and small intestines. It involves diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, colon cancer. Drugs to control the disease suppress the immune system and they can have serious side effects.

Some researchers are now exploring a new approach by using an engineered molecule to suppress the overactive immune response in Crohn’s patients. We’ve known a protein called SMAD7 is over-produced in the gut of people with Crohn’s. In turn, SMAD7 suppresses another protein, TGF-beta, which downregulates the immune response or inflammation in the gut.

Scientists thought if they counteracted SMAD7, they could keep TGF-Beta working properly and control the inflammation that causes the disease. To do this, they used what’s called antisense technology by creating an engineered RNA. It blocks the actual messenger RNA responsible for producing SMAD7, inhibiting an overproduction of this protein.

They tested this approach with a drug called Mongersen and it inhibited SMAD7 in mice. When tested on 166 Crohn’s patients, over half of those who got the highest doses of the drug reported their symptoms had stopped up to two weeks after the trial. The problem, though, is that the results were based on how patients felt rather than verified by imaging and biopsies.

On the upside, the side effects were minor. Hopefully, further testing will prove this to be an effective treatment.