Hope through research for Crohn's disease
Researchers continue to look for more effective treatments. Examples of investigational treatments include
- Anti-TNF. Research has shown that cells affected by Crohn's disease contain a cytokine, a protein produced by the immune system, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF may be responsible for the inflammation of Crohn's disease. Anti-TNF is a substance that finds TNF in the bloodstream, binds to it, and removes it before it can reach the intestines and cause inflammation. In studies, anti-TNF seems particularly helpful in closing fistulas.
- Interleukin 10. Interleukin 10 (IL-10) is a cytokine that suppresses inflammation. Researchers are now studying the effectiveness of synthetic IL-10 in treating Crohn's disease.
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics are now used to treat the bacterial infections that often accompany Crohn's disease, but some research suggests that they might also be useful as a primary treatment for active Crohn's disease.
- Budesonide. Researchers recently identified a new corticosteroid called budesonide that appears to be as effective as other corticosteroids but causes fewer side effects.
- Methotrexate and cyclosporine. These are immunosuppressive drugs that may be useful in treating Crohn's disease. One potential benefit of methotrexate and cyclosporine is that they appear to work faster than traditional immunosuppressive drugs.
- Natalizumab. Natalizumab is an experimental drug that reduces symptoms and improves the quality of life when tested in people with Crohn's disease. The drug decreases inflammation by binding to immune cells and preventing them from leaving the bloodstream and reaching the areas of inflammation.
- Zinc. Free radicals--molecules produced during fat metabolism, stress, and infection, among other things--may contribute to inflammation in Crohn's disease. Free radicals sometimes cause cell damage when they interact with other molecules in the body. The mineral zinc removes free radicals from the bloodstream. Studies are under way to determine whether zinc supplementation might reduce inflammation.
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