This involves transferring fresh microbial flora from a healthy person’s stool to the gut of a patient with imbalance of gut flora and the process is popularly called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT). This process was proved to be successful in 90-98% of patients suffering from Clostridium difficile which causes a disease named pseudo membrane enterocolitis. Whether this process can also be useful for other conditions was a question which was in the mind of many researchers. Now studies are showing promising results for an inflammatory bowel disease called ulcerative colitis. Now the question arises about its utility in Crohn’s disease?
What is Crohn’s disease?
- It is a chronic condition where inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract is seen due to a combination of environmental, genetic, immunological and microbial factors affecting about 600,000 people in America.
- It is a condition where the gut walls are inflamed and can involve any part of the digestive tract from esophagus to large intestine but more commonly the lesions are in the ileum which is the terminal part of small intestine. The involvement is patchy and skip lesions are seen.
- The exact cause is still unknown but many abnormal genes like ATG 16L1,STAT3,NOD2 etc are found in a patient of Crohn’s disease which is absent in a normal individual.
- There is malnutrition because of decreased absorption of vital nutrients like folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium and zinc.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease
- Diarrhea with or without blood in stool.
- Loss of weight
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Severe abdominal cramping and pain
- Extra-intestinal symptoms like pyoderma gangreosum, erythema nodosum, arthritis, skin rashes, ankylosing spondylitis, uveitis, enthesitis, sacro-ilietis and even autoimmune haemolyic anemia.
Management of Crohn’s disease
- The diagnosis of is confirmed by doing colonoscopy followed by biopsy in patients suspected of crohn’s disease.
- Treatment comprises of lifestyle medication which include dietary changes like small meals, smoking cessation and increased water intake.
- Medications are mainly given to reduce the inflammation like 5-aminosalicylates, prednisolone, 6-mercaptopurine, azathioprine, adalimumab, infliximab, natalizumab and certolizumab.
- If anemia developes due to increased fecal iron loss then iron supplements are also given.
- If the symptoms still don’t resolve surgical intervention is tried out.
Recent findings and application of FMT
- People suffering from Crohn’s disease reveal a 50 percent decrease in important commensal bacterium like eubacterium, bacteroids, fermicutis and lactobacillus and also a decrease in bacterial end products I some recent trials.
- Thus it is proven that there is an imbalance in the gut microbial flora in patients of Crohn’s which obviously increases risk of clostridium diffcile infection in them.
- Here comes the scope of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation, the study of is going on in Harvard School of Medicine and Beth Isreas Deaconess Medical Center by eminent doctor and Associate Professor of the institute name Dr. Alan Moss.
- The results of the trial has not arrived yet but there are all the reasons for us to be optimistic and wait for a breakthrough treatment protocol for a disease so much talked about yet so much unknown- the Crohn’s disease.
Many people consider the alternative treatment options of Crohn’s disease like Acupuncture, Fish Oil, herbal; Supplements, Probiotics and Prebiotics. Consult a physician to check the effective ways of treating the symptoms.