Researchers have demonstrated that nanotherapy reduces intestinal inflammation and shrinks lesions in a rodent model of severe Crohn’s disease.
According to the team, this approach could become an alternative to biologic antibody therapies that carry many side effects, including increased risk of certain cancers.
“We injected into the intestinal lesion nanomolecules that carry an anti-inflammatory peptide, which is a tiny portion of a protein,” said researcher Arun Sharma from Northwestern University in the US.
“The results were phenomenal. We saw reduction in inflammation based upon reductions in pro-inflammatory immune cells and proteins. The lesion size shrunk dramatically, which gives us hope that with this therapy we can salvage inflammatory tissue and avoid needing to surgically remove segments of the intestine in severe cases of Crohn’s disease,” Sharma added.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, most often in the small intestine. It can lead to intestinal obstruction and perforation, bleeding, abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition leading to growth abnormalities in children.
One of the key features of Crohn’s disease is lesions along discontinuous segments of the intestine. Current treatments include biologic antibody therapies, and in severe cases surgery, which is not curative.
It is estimated that 70 per cent of patients with Crohn’s disease will require surgery during their lifetime and many will require additional surgery.
Based upon their design, these nanomolecules allow for a very concentrated dose to be introduced into a lesion, according to a study published in the journal Advanced Therapeutics.
The team observed that it creates an anti-inflammatory environment that not only keeps the lesion from growing but also reduces its size.
“Our study provides proof of principle findings that this nanotherapy can be effective for Crohn’s disease and may be applicable to other inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis,” Sharma said.
“Before we can translate this work to clinical application, we need to develop a less invasive mode of delivery, such as oral or via endoscopy,” Sharma added.