Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 2013 Crohn's Stories

So this year has been a very interesting year in terms of Crohn's research. Here are my top Crohn's/IBD stories for 2013...

Possible Crohn's Cure: Anti-MAP?
     There has been a long debate as to what actually causes Crohn's. There are multiple theories but one theory by Dr. Saleh Naser at University of Central Florida (he has been studying this since 1995) is that a bacteria known as mycobacterium pratuberculosis (MAP for short) is what causes Crohn's. It is believed that 40-50% of patients have MAP in their bodies. In order to fix this RedHill Biopharma is licensing Dr. Naser's technology to develop RHB-104 to treat Crohn's. Redhill Biopharma is already conducting Phase III clinical trials and results won't be expected until 2015-2016. However, if this drug really was a cure I could see the drug being brought to the market very quickly. I personally believe this treatment would help me more since my Crohn's started around the same time I had bronchitis and the only flare up I had was when I took an antibiotic which leads me to believe that antibiotics are what seem to be creating the issues.

Vedolizumab Works For Ulcerative Colitis (UC) 
     A new blockbuster drug may be coming soon to a drug store near you. In this trial 47% of patients responded to the drug (compared to a 26% placebo rate). Clinicial remission was about 42% after one year (which is pretty good). There were difference in adverse effects in the placebo group compared to the patients that received the drug. The results for Crohn's disease were mixed. However, once if the FDA approved vedolizumab for UC then doctors may try it with certain types of Crohn's patients to see if it works. The FDA can only regulate drugs and not the practice of medicine.

Cold Water Helps Guy Get Off All Drugs For Crohn's
     Probably the coolest (pun intended) was the story about a guy (Robb Starr) who jumped into chilly water which immensely helped his abdominal pain related to Crohn's. This story lead me to conduct my own research and I did feel quite amazing right after a cold swim (your body does get use to the water after a few minutes). He even woke up at 3 a.m. in pain and went for a swim which after a few minutes would make him pain free. Six years ago he stopped taking all medications and now is not taking anything. Maybe researchers can actually study this by measuring inflammation markers before and after and have patients take a cold swim for 6 months and do a before and after colonoscopy along with some CDAI scores.

Thalidomide Helps 46% of Pediatric Crohn's Achieve Remission
     Perhaps one of the better stories this year was thalidomide showing that it is effective in Crohn's. The trial was  done for just 8 weeks but done over a 4 year period. Longer term studies are needed to study the side effects of thalidomide to see not only if it can induce remission but to make sure it is safe.

Pigworms Failed For Crohn's
     Unforuntately we learned that Cornado's pigworm treatment for Crohn's didn't live up to its promise. I did a full post on Coronado Biosciences here. The trial didn't met the clinical endpoint (drop of 100 points in CDAI). However, it should be noted that patients with a high CDAI (>290) did show an improvement. Prior studies have shown pigworms to be quite effective. With this study showing 86% remission for Crohn's and this study showing 80% of patients had a response.

The good news for the pigworms was that came from initial data that showed the treatment may benefit patients with autism (it is believed that autism is autoimmune as well). Results from this trial are expected by the middle of 2014. The study was only 5 autistic patients however they showed much improvement in their symptoms. The Coronado Biosciences stock was up 33.7% that day as a result of the good news. The company is currently conducting studies for the pigworms in psoriasis patients and results are due out in first quarter of 2014.  In essence, Coronado just has to hit one major disease (psoriasis, Crohn's, multiple sclerosis) to be a hit.

Fecal Transplant Effective in 67% With Ulcerative Colitis, 33% Show No Signs Of Symptoms After 
     I mentioned in this post how fecal transplants were effective in patients with ulcerative colitis. In the study done by Dr. Sachin Kunde 78% of patients achieved a clinical response within one week and 67% of patients maintained a response after one month. What is very interesting is 33% of patients didn't show any symptoms of ulcerative colitis after their fecal transplant. The study was only limited to children and there were only five infusions. I would suspect if you continued to do fecal transplants (via enema) you may have more success.

Biologics Reduce Stomas by 33%
     Patients with Crohn's always wonder about whether or not they will need a stoma. This study looked at patients who had surgery before biologics (pre 2002) and those who had biologics (post-2002). 61% of patients in the pre-biologic era had a permanent stoma while only 20% of patients in the post-biologic era had stomas. This study from the early 1990's shows that only about 7% of Crohn's patients require a permanent stoma and 20% require a temporary stoma. However, in the early 1990's minimally invasive surgery was just coming on to the scene which would reduce the percentage of stomas required and pre-biologics which are now reducing the number of stomas required.

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