Undergrad’s Crohn’s Discovery Could Lead to Better Treatments

July 9, 2024 by

Chelsea Marie and Rebecca Pierce.

(From left) Chelsea Marie, PhD, and Rebecca Pierce (Photo courtesy of Dr. Marie.)

Remarkable new research by a University of Virginia undergraduate may help explain recurrent Crohn’s disease in children and open the door to new ways to treat or even cure the devastating condition.

Crohn’s is a debilitating – and possibly life-threatening – inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and malnutrition caused by the body’s inability to absorb nutrients. It’s most common in adults but afflicts tens of thousands of children in the United States alone. Many of those kids struggle to go to school and find their lives and childhoods greatly disrupted. These children can suffer stunted growth and delayed puberty and may need to have sections of their bowels surgically removed.

UVA’s new research suggests answers to why children with relapsing Crohn’s endure repeated bouts even after appearing to recover. Working under the guidance of the UVA School of Medicine’s Chelsea Marie, PhD, undergrad Rebecca Pierce found that children with relapsing Crohn’s had a persistent disruption of their microbiomes – the collection of microorganisms that lives in our guts – even after inflammation was successfully controlled by treatment.

Read the full article in the UVA Health newsroom.

Original Source

Filed Under: Research