Page last updated at 00:57 GMT, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Crohn's patients plea for study

Crohn's disease can affect the intestine

Crohn's disease patients are being urged to take part in pioneering research to find the first preventative medicine for their condition.

Edinburgh University is conducting a new study into the prevention of Crohn's disease, which causes swelling and ulceration of the gut wall.

Currently there is no medicine either to prevent or cure Crohn's disease.

Medication can calm the symptoms of their attacks, such as abdominal pain and weight loss.

Clinical trials

But 65% of patients require surgery to remove affected tissue within 10 years of diagnosis, and almost all patients will experience further flare-ups of the disease.

The study will test whether a drug, 6-Mercaptopurine (6-MP), which is currently given to ease symptoms of an attack, could also be used to prevent recurrence of the disease after surgery.

Patients who have recently undergone surgery for their Crohn's disease are being urged to take part, and will be followed up for the next three years to determine if the drug has any preventative effect or whether it can reduce the incidence of more surgery.

The study has been funded by the Medical Research Council and is the only such study in Crohn's disease in the UK.

Jack Satsangi, professor of gastroenterology at Edinburgh University's school of molecular and clinical medicine, said: "Crohn's disease is a common cause of chronic ill health in both children and adults in Scotland and influences their quality of life, schooling and work.

"It is of great importance to all of us that we identify effective new therapies in clinical trials."

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20 May 08 |  Health

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