For pediatric patients with Crohn’s disease, it can be difficult to predict how the condition may progress, as well as whether or not it will respond well to treatment. However, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCF) and medical charity LifeArc are teaming up to develop a new tool to better predict disease progression. The pair announced their new partnership alongside an ultimate goal of developing prognostic tests to better determine whether pediatric patients will experience any related complications and to figure out which patients would best benefit from anti-TNF therapies.
Prognostic testing is generally used to determine how something, such as a disease or other medical event, might progress. Because of the risk of Crohn’s-related complications, such as fistulas, it is important for medical professionals to be able to diagnose and effectively treat patients. Without this, patients may require surgery. As described by CCF’s Dr. Andrés Hurtado-Lorenzo, PhD, prognostic tests would allow doctors:
“to deliver the right drug at the right time to the right patient.”
In the Pediatric RISK Stratification Study, researchers identified biomarkers and biological signatures which effectively predicted whether or not pediatric patients would develop associated complications. Now, researchers hope to create a prognostic test to build upon these findings. Within the partnership, LifeArc will offer research and development assistance and product development resources. Alternately, CCF will handle the research and test development aspects. Ultimately, the partnership hopes to have a prototype which can be marketable within 4 years.
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, though some medical professionals believe it might be caused by a mix of genetics and immune response. Crohn’s disease exist under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition causes digestive tract inflammation, particularly around the colon and ileum. Because the inflammation deeply affects tissues, it often causes debilitating pain. Risk factors include Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, specific types of medication, and smoking cigarettes. Typically, Crohn’s disease bounces between intense symptomatic periods and remission. Symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bloody stool
- Unintended weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Mouth sores
- Anal fissures
- Bowel obstructions
- Delayed growth
- Skin, eye, bile duct, liver, and joint inflammation
Learn more about Crohn’s disease here.