Closing in on a cure for Crohn's disease: MAP

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 750,000 Americans suffer from Crohn's disease; a painful, chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Prescription medications may give some patients relief, but so far there is no cure. Researchers now say they have identified the bacteria that causes inflammation in some patients, helping them close in on a cure.

Eric Prado, 20, was a college freshman when he developed what he thought was a stomach bug.

"It feels like stabbing pain, all around," Eric Prado told ABC30.

Doctors diagnosed Eric with Crohn's disease, a serious inflammation of the small bowel and colon.

Saleh Naser is a microbiologist specializing in Crohn's research. Naser says patients with severe cases can be virtually housebound.

"They have a chair by the bathroom door where they have to go to the bathroom 20-30 times a day," Saleh Naser, Ph.D., Microbiologist and Professor of Infectious Disease, specializing in inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn's disease at University of Central Florida, told ABC30.

Naser has identified bacteria called M.A.P. for short that could hold the key.

"This bacteria is known for a long time to be responsible for the same symptoms we see in Crohn's disease, but in cows," explained Naser.

As part of a clinical trial, Naser's lab is testing blood and tissue samples from Crohn's patients for the presence of map.

Patients are being given what Naser calls anti-MAP therapy: for one year, they take three antibiotics known to kill the map bacteria in the lab.

"If the bacteria is gone," said Naser, "then the symptoms should be gone."

Eric Prado is thankful his symptoms are mild and mostly controlled with medication.

"Sometimes you don't know the future," said Prado, "be positive and keep doing what you do."

Sixty-five clinical sites in three countries are participating in the "MAP" trial of the antibiotic therapy. Naser says it's his goal to learn more about the bacteria and why some people are more at risk for Crohn's than others.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Wendy Sarubbi
Public Relations, UCF
(407) 266-1418

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.