Touching Lives - March 2004
Good progress towards Crohn's disease vaccine
The number of sufferers in the UK is increasing and has probably reached 100,000, with about 5,000 new cases every year. Action Medical Research is calling on the Government to make Crohn’s disease reportable to the health authorities so that we can get a true picture of the extent of this condition.
Professor Hermon-Taylor is Professor of Surgery at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London and his work on Crohn’s disease has received over £1million in Action Medical Research funding over the years. His research has shown with increasing certainty that a bacterium which is present in retail pasteurised milk, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), is responsible for most cases of Crohn’s.
^New anti-MAP treatment can help heal a lot of Crohn’s sufferers, but not everyone responds^ and the MAP bug is difficult to eradicate completely. The work Action Medical Research is currently funding is making good progress towards the development of a new state-of-the-art vaccine to treat MAP-infected Crohn’s sufferers.
Such vaccines stimulate the production of good defensive cells by our immune system which patrol the body looking for sick MAP-infected cells. When they find them they kill them and then the dead cells are replaced by healthy ones.
Professor Hermon-Taylor recently appeared in a BBC television documentary Food Police, about Crohn’s disease. The project is due to end later this year and we await the results with great interest.