LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's estimated that more than 3 million Americans and about 100 thousand children suffer from two of the most common of the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Crohn’s disease can trigger pain at any point from the mouth all the way through the intestines. The other is Ulcerative Colitis, which is also painful but only in the colon.
The cure for Ulcerative Colitis is simply remove the colon.
There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease.
But that’s where new research at Texas Tech could make a difference. Researchers there are learning in mice studies that they can change the bacteria in the gut to influence whether an animal will develop Crohn’s Disease.
Dr. Mathew Grisham, Ph.D., is Chairman of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Microbiology at the Texas Tech School of Medicine. He has been studying bacteria in the gut for nearly 30 years. Today, he and his research team are excited about what they are learning about Crohn’s Disease. He says, “We can transfer disease from an animal with severe Crohn’s to an animal that really doesn’t have much disease. When we make that transfer, that animal will be severe as well.”
So, why would that matter to someone who already has Crohn’s Disease? Dr. Grisham explains, “The hope is that we can change the bacterial populations of the gut to more normal looking populations of the different bacteria in the gut and suppress disease.”
Dr. Grisham has much more to say about Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in the attached interview.
He says pain isn’t the only problem that comes with those conditions. “Both patients with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis can lose so much blood in the stool that they can become very anemic and that can be a real problem. Plus, if it happens in young children, it can stunt their growth because they’re not absorbing the correct amount of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract.”
Also, if you think these diseases are more common today than ever before, you’re not alone. Dr. Grisham explains the theory behind that too: our increasingly sterile environment.
Dr. Grisham’s studies at the Texas Tech School of Medicine are funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.
WATCH: FULL INTERVIEW WITH DR. GRISHAM: