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Crohn's Disease Forum » General IBD Discussion » Possible cure for Crohn's?


12-29-2012, 01:01 PM   #1
Tyler_89
 
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Possible cure for Crohn's?

People suffering from the debilitating bowel condition Crohn's disease may be cured using a groundbreaking stem cell treatment, according to the British doctor leading the research.

Initial findings from the world's first controlled trial of the procedure have raised hopes that it could banish the disease's symptoms for many years in up to half of the patients who undergo it.

The pioneering therapy involves "rebooting" the patient's immune system by first destroying the cells that have attacked the body's immune system to cause the Crohn's, and then replacing them.

Prof Chris Hawkey, a gastroenterologist at Nottingham University, is leading the Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Crohn's Disease (Astic) trial. So far 15 patients from six European countries, including three Britons, have taken part, though others are being recruited.

"I'm hopeful that half or more of the partients that undergo stem cell transplantation may either be cured or have a long-term remission," Hawkey said. "We think it's likely that about 50% of people [in the trial] will be cured. We are encouraged. We have a lot of patients that seem to be very well."

Hawkey, other specialist doctors and patients involved in the trial will today meet Alastair Darling, the chancellor, to press for the NHS to offer better treatment across the UK to the estimated 60,000 people who have Crohn's and the 140,000 who suffer from colitis, a similar condition.

Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that typically strikes teenagers and those in their 20s. A lifelong condition, it causes ulceration and inflammation of the digestive tract and is incurable. Existing treatments all involve drugs, which help sufferers control their symptoms but do not offer a cure. It wrecks lives because its embarrassing and painful symptoms including diarohhea, stomach pains, fatigue and weight loss can mean that those with the most severe form of Crohn's find it hard to go to school or college, hold down a job or plan a holiday. It is those most acute sufferers who will benefit if the early promise of the Astic trial translates into a viable treatment.

The stem cell treatment, which takes two years, is very painful for patients, and involves risks including bleeding, infection and a 1-2% chance of death. The stem cell transplantation is used to kill off the patient's old bone marrow that produces the harmful cells which cause the Crohn's and generate new healthy cells.

Riding instructor Laura Hancock is one of the three Britons who are taking part in the trial. She had severe sickness and stomach pains after the chemotherapy element of the treatment as well as aching bones caused by injections of growth factor. The pain led to her also suffering lack of sleep, back pain and loss of energy. Ultimately, however, she benefitted from what proved an uncomfortable experience

She told the recent annual general meeting of the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's: "Three months down the line I felt much better and I'm back to my normal energy levels. My recent colonoscopy showed that the Crohn's disease seems to be quite under control."

Helen Terry of the NACC said: "It's not a pleasant treatment for patients because it's painful and carries certain risks. It's not an easy option. But it holds out the prospect of an effective treatment for some people with Crohn's, for whom other, drug-based treatments have proved ineffective. It could mean that people are able to get their conditions under control and get their lives back. We hope that this will prove to be an effective treatment for patients."

The study has been funded by the Broad Foundations, the Los Angeles-based venture philanthropy organisation run by Eli Broad, one of America's biggest philanthropoists, and his wife Edythe. But Hawkey has applied for further funding, with which to finish the trial, to the UK Stem Cell Foundation, which is trying to progress stem cell techniques from laboratories to actual use in treating patients. It is due to make its decision next month.
12-29-2012, 03:16 PM   #2
mbishop
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This is a four year old article from The Guardian. So far, the interim results from the study look to have a very high number of serious side effects and may or may not have a statistically significant benefit over standard therapy (the numbers of patients is too small and the comparisons don't appear to be against the latest treatment options). See http://gut.bmj.com/content/61/Suppl_2/A18.3.abstract for the latest.
12-29-2012, 05:42 PM   #3
Ihurt
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I mean I think stem cell transplants are helping some people get rid of their diseases, but there are risks involved. I only know of one woman who went through stem cell transplant, but she did not have crohns, she had scleroderma. It was VERY rough, you can develop severe life threatening infections, I mean even from just the common cold. There is a period of time when you have no WBC's, that is the danger period. I mean that being said, I think it good that they have this as an option for people who are not getting any help any other way.
12-30-2012, 12:05 PM   #4
Tyler_89
 
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ahh i thought i was looking at something new when i read it, didnt realise i was reading a 4 year old statement, and yep the risks are quite risky, but people that dont get any effect from meds ect, i think it could be quite a good idea if will to take the risks involved.
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