Is a cure for Crohn's disease in sight?
One researcher believes he may have found a cure for Crohn's disease. Dr. Saleh Naser of the University of Central Florida (UCF) has devoted the past 18 years trying to find a cure for the disease that affects more than 750,000 Americans.
In a press release published September, 2013, Naser announced a Phase III clinical trial that uses an antibiotic that removes a bacterium thought to cause Crohn's disease inflammation.
High hopes for a Crohn's disease cure
The drug company RedHill Biopharma, has licensed Naser’s DNA technology for detecting the bacteria associated with Crohn's disease, known as Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis - or MAP, which Naser believes is the cause of the disease.
Naser however says he has seen cases where people's lives have been completely restored following the treatment that is an anti-MAP antibiotic regimen known as RHB 104.
Red Hill BioPharma says a second phase III clinical trial of the treatment is set to be launched the first half of this year in Europe. The first phase III trial was started in September, 2013 in Israel and the United States.
Naser says the drug regimen is different than current treatments with drugs because it addresses the problem rather than the symptoms.
A caveat: Does MAP really cause Crohn's?
Whether or not the bacteria is the underlying cause of the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been the subject of debate. MAP is known to cause a variety of intestinal inflammatory disease in animals.
Infected humans that develop Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis could contract the bacteria from contaminated milk, water or products made with milk contaminated with MAP. (or so researchers speculate).
Other possibilities include inhalation or infection from contaminated rivers. In all cases, animals exposed to MAP by any route develop intestinal disease.
Dr. Naser and his team will test patients for one year to monitor for the presence of MAP in the blood and intestines of 240 people with Crohn's disease before, during and after the study.
Naser says the study should put to rest a 100 year old debate about what causes Crohn's disease.
"I have high hopes that this clinical trial may lead to finding a cure," Naser said.
University of Central Florida