The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust in New York City has announced a $1.1 million grant to the University of Glasgow to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel treatment for Crohn's disease.
Crohn's is a chronic, debilitating condition of the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to diarrhea, blood in stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, and, in children, slower growth. The grant from the trust will support efforts to develop a more practical alternative to the commonly used exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) therapy, a liquid-only diet that often requires feeding directly to the stomach via a nasal tube. In collaboration with doctors at the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde hospitals, a team led by Konstantinos Gerasimidis has developed CD-TREAT (Crohn's Disease TReatment with EATing), a solid-food-based diet that in a recent study achieved the same gut microbiome changes as those seen with EEN. The study also found that three out of five children with active Crohn's treated in a CD-TREAT pilot entered complete remission and saw their gut inflammation decrease.
"We are optimistic that the clinical effect of CD-TREAT will be replicated in larger studies and will compare well with other mainstream drug therapies," said Gerasimidis. "If these initial findings are replicated, doctors, nurses, and dietitians will be able to decrease or replace potentially harmful and expensive drugs and even avoid surgery, for at least some patients. All of these have clear implications for improving the quality of life of patients with Crohn's disease."
"Until a cure is found, Helmsley's Crohn's Disease Program is committed to improving patients’ everyday lives," said Helmsley Trust Crohn's Disease program officer Shefali Soni. "Diet is one of the key environmental factors that shapes our gut microbiota, and our efforts to find better treatments for patients include dietary interventions."