About three million Americans are affected by inflammatory bowel disease. Over the years there have been many improvements to treatment for this condition, but there are still further advances that can be made. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) have been pushing for more developments. They have identified five studies that have impacted the understanding and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
About Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used for a group of disorders that involve chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. This group includes conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The exact cause of IBD is unknown, but many suspect that it has to do with an immune system malfunction. Healthcare professionals suspect that an abnormal response of the immune system is triggered when it attempts to fight off viruses or bacteria, which then causes the system to attack the cells within the digestive tract.
While the cause is unknown, there are risk factors that are known to lead to or aggravate the disease. These factors include diet, stress, cigarettes, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Age is another factor, as the majority of people are diagnosed with IBD before age 30. This disease affects mainly white people, and people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are at an even higher risk. If one has a family history of IBD, there is a higher likelihood that they will develop this disease. Location can also affect IBD, with those living in industrialized countries or northern climates have a higher chance of developing it.
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease vary with the location and severity of inflammation. Many people experience periods of active symptoms followed by periods of remission. These active symptoms include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, cramping, blood in stool, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss. Seeking treatment is important as complications of this disease include colon cancer, blood clots, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and inflammation of the eyes, joints, and skin.
About the Five Studies
The first study named by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and AGA deals with one of the most effective methods of treatment for IBD: anti-tumor necrosis factor (aTNF). This study found that this treatment is not associated with lymphoma in pediatric patients, which was a past possibility. The study included over 9,000 children and found that aTNF does not increase the risk of lymphoma. This erases a large concern of many IBD patients.
Another study reported that a promising new drug is in the works for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. As there is no cure for this condition, any new developments in treatment are important. AZD4205, which which is an oral JAK1 selective inhibitor, is currently in phase 1 of its clinical trial, and it has shown to be effective and safe as of now. A second phase is currently being planned.
The University of Massachusetts Medical School has created a diet that is meant to balance the good and bad gut bacteria, which will help to treat IBD. In a study of the diet’s effectiveness, 61.3% of participants reported a decrease in disease severity. This diet focuses on probiotic, prebiotic, and other beneficial foods. It also substitutes for carbohydrates and other harmful foods.
The fourth study reported that biologics, which are a newer form of treatment, have lessened the amount of ulcerative colitis patients who require colectomies. The rates of patients having this procedure in the time before biologics were 20-30%. Now, rates have dropped to 5.3-11.9%. This data has brought hope to many medical professionals and patients.
The final study involves a newer form of treatment for ulcerative colitis: fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). This study not only found that FMT is more successful with antibiotic therapy than antibiotic therapy alone, but it also found that donor selection is important. According to this study, siblings are the best donors for this treatment. It also discovered that it is better if the donor is within the same 10-year age range as the recipient.
All of these studies have important implications for the treatment and understanding of inflammatory bowel disease. Medical professionals and patients alike hope that more developments will follow.
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