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Research paves the way for better treatment for children with Crohn's disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Genes can predict children at risk for surgery related to Crohn's disease

Children diagnosed with Crohn's disease could face fewer complications that requires surgery, thanks to new research. It is now possible to predict children who are at risk for developing complications of the bowel disease, which in turns means more personalized Crohn's disease treatment.


The study, published in the journal Lancet, is the result of research from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation that sought to understand more about pediatric patients diagnosed with Crohn's disease who are at high risk for developing fistulas, abcesses or strictures that are the result of inflammation.

The “RISK Stratification” study is the largest new Crohn's disease research that included multiple research centers in the U.S. and two in Canada.

Caren Heller, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of the Foundation explained in a media release: "Stricturing and penetrating disease account for substantial morbidity in both pediatric and adult patients with Crohn’s disease, but there are no validated models to predict risk and the effect of treatment."

Researchers were able to pinpoint specific gene expression in the colon that they identified as biomarkers that can predict children at risk for the Crohn's disease complications.

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"This means that while patients who develop fibrostenosis exhibit, at diagnosis, increased levels of several genes involved in the fibrosis process, patients who develop penetrating disease have increased levels of genes involved in the inflammatory response." said Ted Denson, MD, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, co-principal investigator and lead author of the paper.

The study is considered groundbreaking because it means clinicians can use the biolomarkers to deliver personalized Crohn's disease treatment.

The bowel disease can have an effect on the body that extends beyond the colon and can even affect the nervous system, but not everyone has the same type of Crohn's disease.

Crohn's disease was once considered rare in children but is now diagnosed more frequently in the pediatric population.The disease can be debilitating and chronic, making it important to find ways to treat the chronic inflammation that damages tissue.

There is much that remains tobe learned about Crohn's disease and colitis that still remain a mystery as to the cause.

There are many gene mutations linked to Crohn's disease. The new study shows learning more about genes and how they are expressed could mean more personalized treatment for Crohn's disease that could help prevent complications that lead to surgery or worse.