Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a complex and chronic condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide.

While there is no known cure for IBD, significant advancements in its treatment have been made through clinical trials.

These trials are the driving force behind the development of new therapies and approaches to managing IBD.

Now we will explore the science of progress and how clinical trials are changing the landscape of IBD treatment.

 

Understanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

 

IBD is an umbrella term for chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, primarily encompassing two main disorders:

Crohn’s disease
Crohn’s is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can vary widely from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Some common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

  • Abdominal Pain: Crampy abdominal pain, often in the lower right side of the abdomen, is a frequent symptom of Crohn’s disease. The pain can range from mild to severe and may come and go. 
  • Diarrhea: Persistent diarrhea is a hallmark symptom. It may be watery or bloody and can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. 
  • Weight Loss: Ongoing inflammation and reduced nutrient absorption can result in unintended weight loss. 
  • Fatigue: Chronic inflammation and the body’s efforts to fight it can cause fatigue and a general feeling of weakness. 
  • Fever: Inflammation in the body may lead to a low-grade fever. 
  • Loss of Appetite: Many individuals with Crohn’s disease experience a reduced appetite, which can contribute to weight loss. 
  • Perianal Symptoms: Inflammation near the anus can cause symptoms such as anal fissures, fistulas, and abscesses, resulting in pain and drainage. 
  • Rectal Bleeding: Inflammation in the rectum can lead to bleeding during bowel movements. 
  • Mouth Sores: Some people with Crohn’s disease may develop mouth sores or ulcers. 
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain and swelling, similar to arthritis, can occur as an extraintestinal symptom. 
  • Skin Problems: Skin conditions like erythema nodosum and pyoderma gangrenosum may be associated with Crohn’s disease. 
  • Eye Inflammation: Inflammation of the eyes, known as uveitis, may cause eye pain and redness. 
  • Delayed Growth and Development: Children and adolescents with Crohn’s disease may experience delayed growth and development due to malnutrition and chronic inflammation.

 

clinical_trial_crohns

 

Ulcerative Colitis:

 

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum.

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary in type and severity, and they often come and go, with periods of active disease (flare-ups) and periods of remission. Common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Diarrhea: Persistent and often bloody diarrhea is a hallmark symptom of ulcerative colitis. It can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. 
  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping: Individuals with ulcerative colitis may experience abdominal pain, which can be mild to severe and is often crampy in nature. 
  • Rectal Bleeding: Blood in the stool or noticeable blood on toilet paper is common. It is usually bright red in color. 
  • Urgency and Frequent Bowel Movements: People with ulcerative colitis may have a strong urge to have a bowel movement and may need to go frequently, including during the night. 
  • Tenesmus: This is a persistent feeling of incomplete bowel movements and the need to strain during a bowel movement. 
  • Weight Loss: Ongoing inflammation and reduced nutrient absorption can lead to unintended weight loss. 
  • Fatigue: Chronic inflammation and the body’s efforts to fight it can cause fatigue and a general feeling of weakness. 
  • Loss of Appetite: Many individuals with ulcerative colitis experience a reduced appetite, which can contribute to weight loss. 
  • Fever: Inflammation in the body may lead to a low-grade fever. 
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain and swelling, similar to arthritis, can occur as an extraintestinal symptom. 
  • Eye Inflammation: Inflammation of the eyes, known as uveitis, may cause eye pain and redness. 
  • Skin Problems: Skin conditions like erythema nodosum and pyoderma gangrenosum may be associated with ulcerative colitis. 
  • Liver and Gallbladder Complications: Ulcerative colitis can lead to liver and gallbladder issues, including primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). 
  • Kidney Problems: Some individuals may develop kidney complications, such as kidney stones. 

clinical_trial_ulcerative_colitis

 

The Importance of Clinical Trials in IBD

 

Clinical trials are research studies that involve human participants and are conducted to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments or interventions.

In the context of IBD, clinical trials are instrumental in advancing the understanding of the disease and developing novel therapies.

Here’s why clinical trials are of paramount importance:

  1. Advancing Knowledge: Clinical trials contribute to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and causes of IBD. They provide valuable insights into the disease’s pathophysiology.

     

  2. Developing New Therapies: Clinical trials are a vital part of the process of discovering and testing new drugs and therapies for IBD. Without trials, there would be limited progress in treatment options.

     

  3. Evaluating Treatment Efficacy: Clinical trials determine whether a new treatment is effective and safe for individuals with IBD. This is crucial for informed decision-making by healthcare providers and patients.

     

  4. Personalized Medicine: Clinical trials are often designed to investigate the effectiveness of treatments on specific subsets of IBD patients, promoting a personalized approach to care.

     

  5. Improving Quality of Life: The results of clinical trials have the potential to lead to more effective and less invasive treatments, ultimately improving the quality of life for individuals with IBD.

    clinical_trial_process

     

The Types of Clinical Trials in IBD

 

Clinical trials for IBD can take several forms, depending on their goals and the stage of development of the treatment being studied:

  • Treatment Trials: These trials assess the effectiveness and safety of a specific treatment, such as a new medication or therapy, compared to existing treatments or a placebo.

     

  • Prevention Trials: These trials focus on preventing IBD in individuals at risk. This may involve lifestyle interventions, vaccines, or medications.

     

  • Screening Trials: These trials aim to identify IBD in its early stages, sometimes before symptoms appear. Early detection can lead to more effective treatment.

     

  • Diagnostic Trials: Diagnostic trials focus on improving methods of diagnosing IBD or distinguishing between its subtypes, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

     

  • Supportive Care Trials: These trials explore ways to improve the quality of life for individuals with IBD, including symptom management and psychological support.

     

  • Biomarker Trials: Biomarkers are indicators that can help diagnose or predict the course of a disease. These trials study specific biomarkers related to IBD.

 

The Clinical Trial Process

 

Clinical trials follow a structured process to ensure the safety and efficacy of new treatments. Here are the key stages of a clinical trial:

  1. Preclinical Research: Before a treatment is tested in humans, it undergoes extensive laboratory and animal studies to assess safety and efficacy.

     

  2. Phase 1 Trial: In this initial phase, a small group of healthy volunteers is involved to evaluate safety.

     

  3. Phase 2 Trial: The treatment is given to a larger group of individuals with IBD to further evaluate safety and efficacy and dosage levels.

     

  4. Phase 3 Trial: This phase involves a larger group, often with hundreds or thousands of participants, to compare the new treatment with standard treatments or a placebo. It aims to provide more data on safety and efficacy and dosage levels.

     

  5. Regulatory Approval: If the treatment demonstrates safety and efficacy, it may be submitted for approval by regulatory authorities like the FDA in the United States or SAHPRA in South Africa.

     

  6. Phase 4 Trial: Also known as post-marketing surveillance, this phase continues to monitor the treatment’s safety and effectiveness in the general population.

clinical_trial_infographic

Join a Clinical Trial

 

Currently we are recruiting patients for Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis trials.

Dr George and Dr Deetlefs are clinical investigators at Spoke Research Inc and became involved in Clinical Research in 2017, and now runs the Inflammatory Bowel Disease trials.

 

If you’d like to take part in a clinical trial, join us here:

Apply for Crohn’s Disease Trial

Apply for Ulcerative Colitis Trial

We are here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of clinical research with years of experience.

Contact us to find out more on clinical trials and treatment.

 

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Future treatments are now one step closer. 

Contact us

Spoke Research Inc
Mediclinic Milnerton,
Suite 109
Racecourse Rd, Milnerton
Cape Town

0215518678

Mon – Thurs: 08:00-15:00
Fri: 08:00-12:00
Sat: Closed

info@spokeresearch.co.za

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