There are few options for treatments in the realm of IBD. One treatment used in IBD patients involves the use of daily enemas. These enemas deliver steroids to the lower portion of the intestine and colon. While the steroids do help to relieve local inflammation, the enemas are uncomfortable and not always practical. Unfortunately, these steroids also act on healthy tissue which can cause painful side effects.
Some of the side effects from traditional steroid enemas can include: increased abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas and more rarely flu-like symptoms, fever or joint pain.
Research shows a new gel that precisely targets tissue affected by IBD shows promise for better medication delivery in the future. Hydrogel works by releasing a corticosteroid medication as it comes into contact with an enzyme present at inflamed sites. The hydrogel formulation has been shown to stick more readily to inflamed areas and slowly releases the medication over time.
Unlike a traditional enema the hydrogel is delivered by an enema done only once per week. This could eliminate the need for daily steroid enemas for some patients with IBD. The technology may also be used in the future to deliver other types of targeted medications as well.
The preliminary results look promising for hydrogel. Researchers are working on more testing of the product and preclinical trials before they can begin being used in IBD patients. If you are doing daily enemas for IBD an alternative may be right around the corner.
_Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER). _