NEW YORK, March 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Crohns and Colitis Disease is a chronic disease of the lower intestinal track, causing inflammation and a host of crippling symptoms from ulcers to intestinal rupture. The disease affects approximately 700,000 Americans and many more suffer from undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. To date, not much is known about the ultimate cause of Crohns but for the first time in its history researchers are targeting the bacteria that cause the inflammation.
Founded by the science and Harvard philanthropist, Jeffrey Epstein, the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation has been an avid supporter of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) initiative to identify the bacteria that cause bowel inflammation. Specifically, the CCFA backs pivotal research called the Microbiome Initiative—which identifies 14 bacterial metabolic profiles associated with IBD.
To tackle these 14 bacteria types, researchers are developing the first line of inhibitors to block specific bacterial metabolic pathways, along with dietary supplements to redirect bacterial metabolites.
"This is the first time that a treatment for Crohns and Colitis addresses the cause, instead of the symptoms," Jeffrey Epstein remarked. "Even though we don't know the root cause of the disease, except for a possible genetic disposition, drugs will soon block the bacteria that cause inflammation."
"We anticipate that in the next three to five years, we will have isolated microbial targets and develop strategies that will form the basis for new therapeutic interventions," Dr. R.Balfour Sator stated, who is CCFA Chief Medical Advisor and Midget Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology, and Director of the UNC Multidisciplinary IBD Center.
The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation also supports the CCFA's Genetics Initiative which focuses on the more than 100 internationally-identified genetic factors that contribute to IBD risk. To date, seven high-priority genetic pathways that regulate immune function or the intestinal lining cell response to injury have been targeted for intensive investigation for inhibitor therapy.
Jeffrey Epstein is the founder of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University. He is also a former board member of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Committee at Harvard and a former board member of Rockefeller University.