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Bone marrow transplant a potential cure for Crohn's disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Crohn's disease

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research investigators are currently enrolling patients in a clinical trial that could potentially lead to a cure for moderate to severe Crohn's disease that has failed other therapies including surgery. The treatment wipes out the patient's immune system and then builds a new one to quell inflammation in the intestines.


So far, the results look promising and researchers say it might be possible to "cure" Crohn's disease.

How bone marrow transplant could help Crohn's disease

The CATS trial (Crohn’s Allogeneic Transplant Study) uses bone marrow transplant to help quell inflammation that occurs in only half of patients with moderate to severe Crohn's disease, making other treatment options vital.

The treatment is geared toward giving patients a "new" immune system that begins with chemotherapy and a small dose of radiation to prime the immune system to accept immune cells from a donor.

The goal of treatment is to ensure there is no bone marrow rejection by using immunosuppressive drugs immediately after the transplant. Once blood counts begin to return to normal and the donor cells are working a new immune system develops.

Past and present successes

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Past trials that included patients with Crohn's disease and leukemia have been successful for curing both Crohn's disease and leukemia. Allogeneic transplantation has resulted in disappearance of Crohn's disease for fifteen years.

The success of bone marrow transplant for treating Crohn’s disease were also highlighted in findings were presented at Digestive Disease Week 2013.

A clinical trial known as ASTIC - Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation International Crohn's Disease - included 45 patients with positive results, though the findings were preliminary.

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The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is currently enrolling patients with Crohn’s disease. According to their latest report, 250 questionnaires have been submitted that will help determine who is eligible for the study. You can read a success story from the Fred Hutch News Service published earlier this month.

Though bone marrow transplant for Crohn's disease shows promise, it is currently only being studied for patients who have failed other therapies including surgery.

ALSO SEE: Crohn's disease treatment takes a step forward: New guidelines issued

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons



I have a personal friend who has suffered with Crohn's disease for many years. Her problem is in her small intestine. She has has numerous operations to remove bad spots within her small intestine. She currently has fistulas that are open on her stomach which she wears clostemy bags to collect the waste. She has kidney problems , is enemic and now has no bone marrow. Is there someone that has any information on help for her. Thank You