A half million Americans are living with a painful inflammation of their intestinal tract known as Crohn's Disease.
Medications can have severe side effects, and may not be effective in many people. But the Cotton-O'Neil Digestive Health Center is part of a clinical trial that could help make a new treatment widely available.
37-year old Veronica Sherer is among those taking part in the trial. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease three years ago, she says it's had a dramatic impact on her life. She says she's had a lot of pain and must make frequent trips to the restroom. She also has no energy to keep up with her year-old daughter.
Veronica's husband found out about the trial. Veronica says getting accepted was "a big shining hope."
The trial is using stem cells harvested from healthy adult donors. Dr. Robert Braun of Cotton-O'Neil Digestive Health Center says the adult stem cells are able to modulate the inflammatory response. He says the cells can go to the site of active inflammation and turn down the inflammatory response, giving patients relief.
Patients in the trial get four infusions over 14 days. They will receive differing amounts of stem cells with some patients getting a placebo. The study will follow patients for two years, looking at how effective the adult stem cells are in relieving Crohn's symptoms and how long the effect will last.
Dr. Braun says the treatment has the potential to be a huge breakthrough. He says many drugs developed for Crohn's have severe side effects, and are only effective in 50-percent of people. He says if the adult stem cells are able to actually change the response, it would be an enormous advance in not only Crohn's, but all conditions involving immune response.
While Veronica can't be sure she's getting the real thing, she believes it's making a difference. She says she's full of energy and happy and feels like she has a whole new lease on life.
The trial is still enrolling patients. To see if you're eligible, call 785-270-4856.