Up to 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with Crohn's Disease every year. There is no cure, but treatments are getting better.
Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory condition of the intestines. It causes pain, cramping, and constant diarrhea. And if you have a relative with the condition, you are ten times more likely to develop it yourself. Thankfully, there is a new generation of medications that may help.
Like many parents, Brenda and Tim Stelow's afternoons are booked solid with their kids’ events. But for years, Crohn's Disease made it impossible for Brenda to watch from the sidelines.
Brenda Stelow says, "With Crohn's Disease there's a send of urgency that you need to go now. There's no waiting. I could hardly leave the house because it was non stop. "
Dr. William Sandborn, a gastroenterologist with Mayo Clinic says, "Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory condition of the intestine."
Crohn's is a result of your immune system attacking itself. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications which did not help Stelow, or steroids which did help but also caused terrible side effects.
Stelow says, "I blew up like a water balloon."
There are also immune suppression drugs. Now there's another option. Stelow enrolled in a Mayo Clinic study testing a new drug therapy.
Sandborn says, "We can think of this as sort of a smart bomb drug."
Stelow says, "Every two weeks I take this shot."
The medications target the areas of inflammation deep in the lining of the intestines of people with Crohn's disease. There, it inactivates the specific proteins that cause inflammation and stops symptoms for two-thirds of the people who take it.
Stelow says, "I haven't had pain, I haven't had a sense of urgency to have to run to the bathroom, I haven't missed any of my kids' events because I was afraid to be stranded without a bathroom."
Symptom free for three years.
These medications may stop symptoms for many people, but they cannot cure Crohn's Disease. Like other patients, Stelow may have flare-ups in the future. But for now, she is symptom-free.
The names of the three medications used in the study are Remicade, Humira, and Certolizumab pegol.
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