Michael Stephens, M. D., discusses a recent study published in Cell Host Microbe about pediatric Crohn's disease. The study looks at the microbiome in children with Crohn's disease compared to healthy children.
Researchers and doctors believe there is a dysfunctional interface with the types of bacteria and other organisms colonizing in the gut of children with Crohn's disease. There were almost 700 patients involved in this study and 400 of them had Crohn's disease. The samples from the patients were collected right at diagnosis so there weren't any changes that needed to be explained due to the treatment patients were receiving for their Crohn's disease.
The researchers found very different types of families of bacteria in the gut of children with Crohn's disease compared to the gut of healthy children. This doesn't mean that specific bacteria is the cause of Crohn's disease but the researchers saw clear changes of what types of bugs are colonizing in children with Crohn's disease. These results will allow researchers to pursue the exact cause that's driving the disease. The researchers also discovered children who had recently been on antibiotics had even bigger changes in these specific gut bacteria.
This study is part of a bigger project that will help change how children with Crohn's disease are treated. The organization that collected all of the samples is called PROKIIDS. The study is sponsored by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation and now has funding from the National Institutes of Health. The project is following over 1,200 children from their diagnosis with Crohn's disease forward. The goal is to identify specific items that might pinpoint how Crohn's disease develops such as genetics, immune profiles, or the types of bacteria being colonized in the gut. The overall goal of the research is to have individualized medicine and be able to pick a treatment tailored to the patient's specific problem.
Read the full study online here.
For more information about IBD, visit mayoclinic.org/ibd.
Dr. Stephens is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic.