Currently, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and treatment options, like surgery, can sometimes be invasive. Additionally, treatments like anti-inflammatory drugs or nutritional supplements treat the symptoms, but not the root of the condition. However, Medical XPress recently shared that research out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario may be getting closer to achieving this goal. The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown. Yet researchers discovered that up to 70-80% of those with Crohn’s disease test positive for adherent-invasive e-coli (AIEC) bacteria, presenting a possible trigger. If this is a trigger for Crohn’s disease, researchers may also develop new treatments designed to target the AIEC bacteria. Read the full study findings published in Nature Communications.
During their research, the McMaster team explored the gut and intestinal lining of patients with Crohn’s disease. When they did this, they found that a large number of patients had AIEC bacteria in their gut. However, researchers were unclear why this occurred and how it could be treated.
To explore this, researchers mutated genes within the AIEC bacteria. They then implanted these bacteria in mice to determine how the bacteria grew and proliferated, and which effect it had on the mice. Ultimately, through this, researchers determined which genetic changes helped the bacteria to grow within the gut lining. The researchers found that the AIEC bacteria proliferate within a biofilm on the intestinal wall. This not only protects the bacteria from antibiotic treatments, but from immune response. More so, Crohn’s disease also allows the immune system to stop responding to inflammation caused by these bacteria.
While researchers do believe that AIEC bacteria are a trigger for Crohn’s disease development, more research is needed to determine potential effective therapies to combat this.
Ultimately, Crohn’s disease exists under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition is characterized by digestive tract inflammation, particularly around the ileum and colon. Because deep tissue inflammation occurs, Crohn’s disease can be extremely painful. Typically, Crohn’s disease develops in those under 30 years old. It is also more common in Caucasians, those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, smokers, and those living in an industrialized area. Although Crohn’s disease is a progressive disease, many patients experience symptomatic periods punctuated with periods of remission. When symptoms do appear, they include:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Bloody stool
- Appetite loss and/or unintended weight loss
- Mouth sores
- Anal drainage or pus
- Skin, bile duct, liver, or ocular inflammation
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Bowel obstruction
- Anal fissures
Learn more about Crohn’s disease.