Can we predict the course of Crohn's disease?
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract, thought to arise from a dysregulated interaction between the host immune system and the gut microbiota. Symptoms may be debilitating and usually require a lifetime of care.
Some patients experience frequent relapses and require treatment with increasingly potent immunosuppressants and/or surgery, whereas others achieve prolonged remission without any additional therapy. Such variability in prognosis occurs in other immune-mediated diseases and can make the difference between an excellent long-term outcome or progressive disability.
Yet, the causes of such variation remain largely unknown.
The inability to predict disease course consequently affects clinicians and patients, leaving them with a choice between two unsatisfactory options: proactive treatments which may be unnecessary, or reactive therapies which may arrive too late. Solving this challenge would not only enable doctors to tailor treatment appropriately, but also help them design better treatments, which could specifically target the biological processes responsible for frequent disease flare ups.