Here’s a roundup of recent headlines and research related to Crohn’s disease, the autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive tract.
Women proudly share their colostomies on social media to fight stigma and shame.
Be proud of your bags, ladies. Bethany Townsend, a 23-year-old makeup artist/model from the UK, sparked a viral frenzy on the Internet when she uploaded a photo of herself in a bikini that exposed her colostomy bag. Townsend has lived with Crohn’s disease since the age of three. The photo, posted on Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page, has received more than 245,000 likes and is inspiring others in the IBD community to snap a shot of their colostomies to share on social media. Townsend’s simple act is seen as an important step toward acceptance and education about IBD, as well as helping to fight stigma around the condition. To learn more or to participate, search and use the hashtag #GetYourBellyOut.
Disruption of circadian rhythms in sleep cycle may increase IBD flares.
A new study underlines the importance of proper sleep for IBD patients. Your body’s internal biological clock produces circadian rhythms, which instructs the body to sleep. Researchers from Rush University Medical Center believe frequent disruptions of this cycle, paired with an unhealthy high-fat and high-sugar diet, can exacerbate IBD because it causes changes in intestinal flora. The researchers note IBD patients should eat a healthy diet, take probiotics and monitor their health.
Researchers investigate Crohn’s gene that may be associated with other conditions.
What do Crohn’s, Parkinson’s and leprosy have in common? Potentially the same gene: LRRK2, which is connected to the immune system. People with LRRK2 are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Recently, scientists have noticed gene mutations of LRRK2 can also develop into leprosy and Crohn’s, even though they don’t stem from the same disease family. But researchers speculate it may be a common mechanism—the immune function regulation—of the gene within all three conditions. A team of researchers from the University of Ottawa in Canada is investigating the possible link thanks to a $2.5 million grant.
Popular IBD drug not linked to short-term cancer risk.
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) antagonists are a common group of drugs used to treat IBD inflammation. However, a 2006 clinical trial analysis concluded that the drugs could lead to increased risk of cancer because they target TNF-a, which is one of the body’s natural defenses against cancer. Researchers cautioned that by lowering TNF-a, cancer cells were more likely to withstand detection. A group of Danish researchers recently tackled this hypothesis. They analyzed the cancer rates of more than 56,000 Danish IBD patients and found no difference in cancer risks between those who took the anti-TNF-a drugs and those who didn’t. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be new IBD treatment.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) requires patients to breathe pure oxygen within a room that contains triple the amount of normal air pressure. This increased rate of oxygen promotes tissue and cell growth for healing and repair. Researchers analyzed 17 different studies on the effectiveness of HBOT, covering 600 patients in 9,000 HBOT sessions. The reported response rate was 86 percent for both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patients.
Entyvio injection approved by the FDA for IBD.
Entyvio (vedolizumab) injection was recently approved by the FDA to treat IBD. The injection is a new type of biologic drug called an integrin receptor antagonis. It works by blocking the communication of certain proteins on the cell surfaces between inflammatory cells. This helps prevent the spread of inflammation through the intestinal tract. The FDA approved this drug for use only if one or more other traditional IBD therapies failed.