Help For Crohn's Sufferers

April 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
No one knows for sure what causes Crohn's disease and there's no cure. But that doesn't mean there isn't hope.The FDA is looking at a promising new drug that could make a big difference for more than half a million sufferers.

Doctors diagnosed Tara Roberts' Crohn's disease when she was 13-years-old. Since then, she's learned to live with stomach pain, fatigue, and worse.

"There's no warning, no control. You live with diarrhea 24/7," Roberts says.

That's not easy when you're raising three busy kids.

Dr. William Sandborn is a Crohn's disease expert. He explains that patients make a lot of protein that causes inflammation. So he's trying to find a drug that blocks the protein in the intestine. He thinks he's found one. It's called certolizumab pegol, or Cimzia.

"It's sort of a smart bomb drug targeted very specifically towards this bad protein," says William Sandborn, M.D., a gastroenterologist at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

His study showed 65 percent of patients felt better after six months. This includes people who didn't respond to other drugs. He says it's good to have options.

"It becomes very important to have two or three or four drugs in that class, because you can expect that any one of the drugs that the patient might take, that it's going to wear off," Dr. Sandborn says.

Roberts has tried several different medicines and settled on one called Remicade. She is technically in remission, but that could end tomorrow.

"If Remicade were to ever stop working, it's nice to know that there's a backup there, something else that I would be able to try," Roberts says.

Research has indicated Crohn's has strong genetic links. Scientists now believe there are at least eight different genes linked to the development of the disease.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
The Mayo Clinic
www.mayoclinic.com


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