Diseases & Research

Crohn's Disease

The Hutchinson Center started studying Crohn’s disease in the 1980s, when our researchers were among the first to notice that bone marrow transplants eradicated the condition. More recently, our investigators have focused on a new bone marrow transplant method that could possibly cure the disease.

Fast Facts

  • Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of any portion of the gastrointestinal tract and is among a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).

  • Crohn’s disease may affect more than 700,000 Americans, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Crohn’s Disease usually has its onset between the ages of 15 and 35.

  • Crohn’s disease symptoms may include weight loss, a lack of appetite, fatigue, persistent diarrhea, constipation, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, rectal bleeding and fistulas (tunnels between one loop of the intestine and another, or from the intestine to another organ).

  • Treatment involves a variety of options including immune-suppressive medication, biological agents with anti-inflammatory effects and in some instances surgical resection.  

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Treatment & Prognosis

Using bone marrow transplantats to treat Crohn’s - Dr. George McDonald has launched the Crohn's Allogeneic Transplant Study to determine whether transplanting bone marrow from a healthy donor can cure severe, treatment-resistant Crohn’s disease. There is strong evidence that genetic abnormalities in the immune regulatory system are linked to the most severe forms of the disease. By transplanting healthy bone marrow from a donor, a patient’s immune system can be replaced, therefore eliminating the abnormalities of their original immune system that caused their Crohn’s disease. Because bone marrow transplantation carries significant risk for patients – although risks have greatly improved in recent years (ink) – the study will initially enroll patients with the most severe, therapy-resistant forms of the disease. Patients must be healthy enough to undergo the bone marrow transplant procedure; their health insurance must cover the costs of transplantation; and a matched donor must be found. Learn more »

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