A recent study has found a new way to treat IBD. Scientists have discovered an immune cell type which can start to repair the gut lining after it has become inflamed. These new findings provide hope for patients suffering with these often-debilitating conditions.
Here, you will learn more about IBD and what this new study means for potential new treatments.
What is IBD and what causes it?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), relates to two types of inflammatory diseases – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, though there are treatments available to help.
The exact cause of IBD isn’t known. However, there are some theories as to why it may develop. Some experts suggest that IBD conditions are caused by a malfunction in the immune system. This means when the body is fighting off a bacterium or virus, the immune system will also attack the cells within the digestive tract.
There is also evidence to suggest it can be hereditary. Those who do suffer with IBD tend to have family members with the conditions too. Risk factors of developing IBD include age, smoking and certain medications.
Understanding the new study
Up until recently, the molecular mechanism which causes molecules to start repairing inflammatory damage, has been unknown. However, the new study carried out by researchers in the Republic of Korea, has revealed the process.
The researchers looked at the intestines of patients with IBD to investigate macrophages. When the patients experienced a flare up, the scientists discovered that there were low levels of a particular type of macrophage within the gut. Interestingly, when the patients went into remission, the same type of macrophage showed increased levels.
This shows that controlling the level of this type of macrophage in patients with IBD could be key to treating the conditions. However, further research is now required to help understand the factors that switch the macrophages into repair mode.
What current treatments are available?
While this new study is promising, it doesn’t help those who are suffering with IBD right now. The good news is, there are some effective treatments already available. Simple lifestyle changes, medications and surgery, can all be used to treat the symptoms of the conditions.
In order to control the symptoms of IBD, lifestyle changes can play an important role. For example, there are some foods which can trigger the symptoms of IBD. These include dairy products, alongside high-fibre and highly seasoned foods. You can also aim to keep stress to a minimum and take supplements to counteract any potential nutrient deficiencies.
If the conditions cause significant problems for the patient, surgery may also be an option. You can talk through your options with Mr Woodward during an initial consultation. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.