• Discovery’s Edge: Hope For Healing With Regenerative Medicine


Crohn’s-related wounds may have met their match in a pioneering regenerative therapy thanks to truly collaborative team science. In the world of medical trials, a two-year follow-up period requiring MRIs, phone calls and multiple doctor visits would turn off many potential participants.

But those interested in the phase I regenerative medicine trial led by Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist William Faubion, M.D., are all too happy to comply. The research team is testing the use of stem cells derived from the patient’s own body to heal open wounds caused by Crohn’s disease. Called perianal fistulas, these wounds are holes leading from the inside of the rectum to the outside of the body, near the anus.

In Crohn’s patients, a fistula develops when the characteristic inflammation in the digestive tract is so great that an ulcer forms, spreads through the intestinal wall and then bores a hole through muscle and skin near the anus. Crohn’s disease is chronic and has no known cure. It afflicts up to 700,000 Americans, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Often perinatal fistulae resist treatment, both with medications and through treatment with a seton, a thread that is placed to promote drainage and healing. Currently standard therapies work less than half the time. Even when they do work, fistulae often return. Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.

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