Treatment & diagnosis of Crohn's Disease

Work on Crohn's Disease Vaccine Underway in England


In general, a vaccine should cause the immune system to produce antibodies and/or special immune system blood cells that may suppress or kill infectious organisms that can cause disease.

Modern DNA vaccines work by generating populations of "armed" immune defense cells that can clear the body of  cells infected with bacteria, viruses or other pathogens.  This approach is already in clinical trials for HIV/AIDS and  Malaria, both  diseases that have defied vaccine makers for decades, before the advent of modern  DNA vaccine techniques.

About the Crohn's Disease Vaccine Research

A new DNA vaccine to both treat and prevent Crohn's disease is being developed in London, England. The research project is based at St. George's Hospital Medical School's Crohn's Research Group, and is being conducted by Professor John Hermon-Taylor, and Dr. Timothy Bull, (both members of  PARA's Advisory Council).

The team at St. George's has been at the forefront of MAP and Crohn's disease research for a decade and a half, and has been responsible for the discovery of two genetic sequences which are unique to MAP. These are the IS900 sequence upon which the majority of modern MAP diagnostics are based, and the GS sequence believed to enable MAP to cover itself with an inert coating. This makes MAP invisible using the microscope, as well as able to minimize recognition by the immune system.

The St. George's team believes that the vaccine will assist people with Crohn's disease in bringing their MAP infection under control.  The vaccine is intended for use in the treatment of Crohn's disease, either alone or in combination with anti-MAP antibiotic treatment. The antibiotic treatment will get rid of many of the MAP-infected cells in the patient, and the immune system armed-up by the new DNA vaccine, will get rid of the rest, together with any MAP that have become resistant or gone into a state of dormancy .   Additionally, the vaccine may be used in people who do not have Crohn's disease, but who may already be found to test MAP-positive on ileocolonoscopic mucosal biopsy or to be at particular risk, in order to prevent them from developing Crohn's disease.

Testing and Clinical Trials

The team at St. George's has completed the construction of the two principal vaccine components, following which they will move straight into tests of safety and effectiveness in animals. After that, the next stage will be regulatory approval and  safety and efficacy trials in people with Crohn's disease. If those trials go well, then the stage will be set for a Phase III clinical trial, where the vaccine would be trialed on a multi-center, double-blinded, placebo-controlled basis.  Success in a Phase III clinical trial would mean that the vaccine could be used as a primary treatment for Crohn's disease, a prospect that could be as little as five years away.  

Research Funding Needed!

The team at St. George's estimates that  500,000 (US $780,500) is need for this important research.  They have been awarded nearly 160,000 (over a 3-year period) by the British medical charity, Action Research, to develop the vaccine.  

Realizing the importance of this work at St. George's, two UK citizens, Tim Page (wife has Crohn's) and Nickie Colville (daughter has Crohn's)  have been fundraising for this important project, so that the goal of 500,000 can be met.  To date they have raised over 200,000.   Congratulations and thank you, Tim and Nickie!   These individuals are to be highly commended for their tireless efforts.  If you would like to get involved in this fundraising effort, please contact:

Tim Page
The Chronic Crohns Campaign
2 Bankside Cottages
Bankside, Jonas Lane, Wadhurst
East Sussex TN5 6UL
Tel:  01892 783313

Nickie Colville

To make direct contributions to the project at St. George's, please contact:    

Mr. Frank Shore, Director of Finance
St. George's Hospital Medical School

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association, 1999-2003.