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Research on New IBD Treatment in Full Swing

Over 1 million Americans are beset with irritable bowel disease (IBD), an umbrella term for various chronic, debilitating inflammatory intestinal conditions, including Chron's disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms of IBD include severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss. Currently, treatment options are limited, with many depending on daily enemas to find a measure of relief.

Daily enemas, as one could imagine, are uncomfortable and impractical. In addition, the drugs utilized in enemas are also absorbed by healthy tissues that don't need them, sometimes resulting in further complications.

However, a research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in coordination with other research centers, offers hope of a better way for IBD sufferers: hydrogel.  The hydrogel is composed of ascorbyl palmitate (AP), which is already an FDA-approved material, and is an excellent carrier of medication.

Inflamed tissue is positively charged, while AP is negatively charged, meaning AP hydrogel will anchor itself to inflamed tissue like a magnet. Inflamed tissue contains an enzyme that slowly breaks down the AP hydrogel, releasing the medication carried within. Medication can thus be targeted on inflamed tissue, leaving healthy tissue undisturbed.

Additional potential positives for IBD sufferers include weekly enemas instead of daily enemas; no systemic side effects; and no need to retain the enema, reducing the chances of further complications.

To this point, test subjects have been mice genetically engineered to have a form of ulcerative colitis. After further research on these perennial lab favorites, clinical trials on humans appear to be in the offing.

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