Action Research to Develop Crohn’s Disease Vaccine | Action Medical Research

Action Research to Develop Crohn’s Disease Vaccine

16 January 2001
Sufferers of Crohn’s Disease could be helped by a new vaccine to be developed by Action Research scientists. The vaccine aims to produce immunity to the bacterium known as MAP (mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis) which is believed to be a cause of Crohn’s Disease. The UK government’s own research confirmed that the bacterium is found in retail milk and is not killed by normal pasteurisation methods. John Hermon-Taylor, Professor of Surgery at St George's Hospital, London will receive almost £160,000 over three years to develop the vaccine. Professor Hermon-Taylor said: “This is wonderful news. We can now complete the second stage of the vaccine development in preparation for the first clinical trials in Crohn’s Disease sufferers”. Anne Luther, Director General of Action Research said: “We have been steadfastly supporting research into Crohn's disease for many years. We are glad to be able to build on Professor Hermon-Taylor's earlier findings with the clear objective of protecting people from its devastating effects”. Crohn's disease ruins the lives of sufferers and represents one of the major unsolved problems of modern medicine. A chronic inflammation of the intestine, the disease's symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, daily abdominal pain, weight loss, extreme tiredness and psychological problems. It is believed that the disease severely affects up to 80,000 people in the UK. It is thought that there are 4000 - 8000 new cases every year. These figures are estimates and will remain estimates until the government makes the disease notifiable (i.e. requires the collection of statistics upon diagnosis). Action Research does not recommend that anyone stops drinking milk. However for those individuals with Crohn's disease or their close relatives, who may feel particularly at risk, it may be sensible to start drinking UHT milk. As UHT involves higher pasteurisation temperatures, it is probable that MAP is destroyed. MAP has a low level of infectivity and is tolerated by the vast majority of people with no ill effects. Factors involved in developing Crohn's Disease also include an inherited susceptibility, co-incidental infection (gastro-enteritis or multi-viral infections in childhood) and also psychological conditions and stress, both which make people (and animals) vulnerable to disease. MAP is known to cause Johne's disease, a chronic intestinal inflammation, which affects cattle, sheep and many other species including primates, in the same way that Crohn's affects humans. The symptoms of Johne's are acute weight loss and usually diarrhoea. Action Research’s website www.action.org.uk has further detailed information on notification, MAP and our campaign into Crohn’s Disease. For further information please contact Mike Deyes at Action Research on 01403 327429 or mdeyes@action.org.uk.
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