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Patients’ own cells could be the key to treating Crohn’s disease


A new technique using patients' own modified cells to treat Crohn's disease has been proven to be effective in experiments using human cells, with a clinical trial of the treatment expected to start in the next six months.

Researchers at the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) developed the technique by studying white blood cells taken from patients who have Crohn’s disease, and comparing them to cells of healthy people. Their findings allowed cell therapy specialists in the BRC to develop a treatment involving taking patients’ cells, and growing them in a special culture so that they behave more like cells from healthy people.

Professor Graham Lord, previously Director of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC, led the research. He recently took up a role as Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester. He said: “This is the next frontier in cell therapy, as we’re going beyond treating the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and trying to reset the immune system to address the condition.

The researchers found that specialised white blood cells called regulatory T cells from Crohn’s patients produced less of a gut-specific protein called integrin α4β7 than regulatory T cells from healthy people. Working with the specialists at the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC’s Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Platform, they developed a cell therapy technique based on these findings.

This technique involves developing cells from the Crohn’s disease patients with a molecule called RAR568, which restores healthy levels of integrin α4β7. The cells are then given back to patients by intravenous infusion.

Dr Peter Irving, a Consultant Gastroenterologist and co-author on the paper, said: “While the treatments available for Crohn’s disease have increased over recent years, they only work in some patients. In addition, the treatments have potentially serious side effects in some patients. This research paves the way for a trial of using patients’ own cells to treat their Crohn’s disease and we look forward to offering people the chance to take part in the very near future.”

Read full article at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190215110311.htm

Posted on: February 21 2019

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