Researchers using bone marrow for treating Crohn's disease
Crohn's disease is a poorly understood condition that is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. The condition is not curable, impacts quality of life and manifests with symptoms that come and go. Now researchers at Emory University are exploring the benefits of using a patient's own bone marrow to prevent damage from the disease and prevent Crohn's disease flare-ups.
How bone marrow could help Crohn's disease
The bone marrow therapy is being explored in older adolescents and younger adults and is currently being offered only in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
Subra Kugathasan, MD, Marcus Professor of pediatric gastroenterology at Emory School of Medicine and a physician with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, is leading the clinical trial through support from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Crohn's disease is difficult to treat, the researchers say. For some patients, even after surgery, the disease can recur, making it important to find personalized therapies for the debilitating condition that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, malnutrition and growth and development delays in children.
"There is no current answer for what specifically causes Crohn's disease, nor is there a cure," says Kugathasan in a press release. "But we hope that through our clinical research, we will be able to significantly improve the course of this disease."
Bone marrow transplants have been used for decades to help treat life-threatening diseases. For Crohn's disease, the researchers are harvesting mesenchymal stromal cells from the bone marrow that the Emory team has already studied for treating autoimmune diseases.
Here is a video that helps explain how cells can be retrained to calm and "over-exuberant" immune response that happens to people with Crohn's and other autoimmune diseases.
Rather than relying on a donor for the bone marrow cells, the trial uses the patient's own cells that are prepared and delivered shortly after harvesting and without animal products.
If you have Crohn's disease and are interested in participating in the trial, you can contact Emory University, or speak with your physician. For additional information, contact the clinical trial team via email at [email protected] or by calling 404-727-7049.
The hope is to develop therapies with bone marrow that target cancer, Crohn's disease and other autoimmune diseases and more.