Majority of Crohn’s disease trial patients in remission after eight weeks

More than half of Crohn’s disease patients taking part in a treatment trial entered remission after just eight weeks, medics have said.

Doctors at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children worked with scientists at the University of Glasgow on the “CD-TREAT” trial, which involved patients aged between six and 15.

It introduced an ordinary food-based diet to their treatment in place of a milkshake-like, liquid-only alternative, with their dietary intake recorded on a daily basis.

Every patient was reviewed after four and eight weeks and any child recording a deterioration or no improvement were discontinued from the trial.

But after the eight-week point, 80% of the children had improved clinically and 60% had entered remission.

Dr Richard Hansen, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist, said: “Whilst the numbers in this pilot were small, the signals were very encouraging.

“This work is so important because it offers not only a potential way of treating Crohn’s disease that is less reliant on medicines that suppress the immune system, it also allows children and young people to eat normal foods alongside their family in contrast to the repetitive and bland milkshake diet we currently rely on.”

Crohn’s is a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed, with symptoms lasting weeks or months including diarrhoea, stomach ache and cramps.

It is now hoped the study will be extended to adults after various trusts and foundations pledged funding to begin such work.

Dr Hansen added: “We’re also pleased to say that since we published this study, we’ve attracted over £2 million in funding from Helmsley Charitable Trust, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and JP Moulton Charitable Foundation to expand the study into adults and to start a new study looking at whether we can also use the diet to maintain remission.

“In fact, we have now recruited 49 patients to the original trial, split equally between children and adults, and are aiming for 60 recruits in total.

“Once we have finished the trial, we plan to look at how the diet changed bacteria in the gut of those who were treated for clues about how it works to push Crohn’s disease into remission.

“We hope this will help unlock some of the secrets of how this disease occurs in the first place and maybe give us new ways to think about treating it in the future.”