Northwestern is testing experimental therapies for Crohn's disease

August 07, 2002

CHICAGO --- Researchers at the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Northwestern University are conducting clinical trials of several innovative approaches to the treatment of Crohn's disease, including experimental drugs and a new swallowable video camera that produces high-quality images of the small intestine.

Research related to these Crohn's disease studies appears in the Aug. 8 issue of The New England Journal of Medine.

In addition to aiding diagnosis by affording a more complete view of the small intestine without pain or discomfort to the patient, the "camera-in-a-capsule" enables physicians to direct appropriate treatment and determine the effect of new medications for Crohn's disease.

The studies are headed by Alan Buchman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at The Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Northwestern.

Crohn's is a serious inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract that causes diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever and rectal bleeding. The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown.

Among the experimental medications for Crohn's disease undergoing investigation at Northwestern is a synthetic, oral form of interleukin-11, a chemical produced by white blood cells in response to inflammation. This study of interleukin-11 for Crohn's disease is the first to be conducted in humans.

Research has shown that interleukin-11 is both an anti-inflammatory agent and a potent growth factor that aids in the healing process. Other drugs used to treat Crohn's disease, such as prednisone, only reduce inflammation.

In a separate study, Northwestern also is assessing the use of interleukin-11 in ulcerative colitis.

Northwestern will be studying two experimental drugs for Crohn's disease that prevent inflammation by blocking the process by which white blood cells adhere to areas of inflammation in the bowel.

Another investigational study for Crohn's disease will focus on a drug that blocks production of an inflammation-causing chemical known as tumor necrosis factor.
For information on these and other studies for the treatment of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, contact the Northwestern Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at (312) 695-4IBD (or 4423).

KEYWORDS: Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease

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Broadcast Media: Tamara Kerrill at (847) 491-4888 or

Northwestern University

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