Some doctors believe they have found a new course of treatment for Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in which the immune system attacks its own tissue. But now some doctors believe that the body is not actually attacking itself, but, rather, bacteria that naturally live in the intestines and aid in food digestion and pose no harm, according to published reports.
The course of treatment is prescribing antibiotics. The problem is, however, there is not enough information on the antibiotic treatment or on the disease itself to prove how well antibiotics are in treating the disease. Some patients see tremendous improvement in systems while taking antibiotics, other see no effect and need to be prescribed powerful steroids and immune-suppressing drugs.
Dr. Jonathan Braun from the University of California at Los Angeles said it’s too early to know whether the drugs could play a bigger role in controlling the illness. Though many suspect Crohn’s is linked to bacteria, he said there is no consensus on which specific types are to blame, which antibiotics are effective and how long a patient should take them.
The doctors may be the only ones who seem to be intrigued with this course of treatment. One, Ira Shafran, was quoted in his concern that, “drug companies, which typically don’t make as much money on antibiotics, will not be interested in investigating their wider use in Crohn’s sufferers.” Shafran has been practicing using antibiotics on his Crohn’s patients for years and has seen some patients respond remarkably and others not at all to the treatment.
William Chamberlin, an associate professor at Texas Tech University, also treats many of his Crohn’s patients with antibiotics, often using generic versions that he says offer a low-cost treatment with fewer side effects. “I cannot say it’s a cure for patients, though some do remarkably well,” said Chamberlin. “Others don’t really do well at all.”