People with Crohn’s disease know the uncomfortable symptoms of chronic disease very well: diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue, among others.
But what doctors have not been able to say the approximately 565,000 people in the US Crohn’s disease is why we have developed inflammatory bowel disease in the first place.
Those who suffer with the disease know the effect that the symptoms – weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain – can have, but doctors have not, up until yet, been able to tell patients why they’ve developed the condition. Many believe that it’s caused by an abnormal response of the immune system to bacteria that we all have in our gut, but it’s only now that that fungus has been identified.
Researchers analysed samples from 20 Crohn’s patients for levels of bacteria and fungi, and compared them to those from 28 healthy volunteers. Crohn’s sufferers had “strong fungal-bacterial interactions”, said researchers; specifically the bacteria Serratia marcescens and the fungus Candida tropicalis and E.coli.
The study’s senior author, Mahmoud A. Gannoum, professor and director of the Centre for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Centre, said: “Among hundreds of bacterial and fungal species inhabiting the intestines, it is telling that the three we identified were so highly correlated in Crohn’s patients.”
The discovery is the first to ever link a fungus to Crohn’s disease, and it’s one that could open the door to new therapies, such as different medications and probiotics. According to Crohn’s and Colitis Australia, 75,000 Australians currently live with the condition, with numbers expected to increase to 100,000 by 2022.
Most experts suspect the condition is the result of the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells, mistakenly triggered by bacteria in the digestive tract. Now, a new study has identified a specific fungus and two bacteria they think play a key role in what leads some people to develop the disease.
“Among hundreds of bacterial and fungal species inhabiting the intestines, it is telling that the three we identified were so highly correlated in Crohn’s patients,” the study’s senior author Mahmoud A. Ghannoum, professor and director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said in a press release.