What causes Crohn's Disease? That is the question that researchers have been looking for an answer to. It is also the question that those afflicted with Crohn's hope the researchers will find the answer for all their hearts. Once a cause can be established with certainty, a cure will not be far behind.
There are many theories about what causes Crohn's Disease. CCFA (Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America) sponsors research and there has been progress made in the fields of immunology (the study of the body's immune-defense system) microbiology (the study of microscopic organisms with the power to cause disease) and genetics. Many scientists and researchers now believe that the interaction of an outside agent (such as a virus or bacteria) with the body's immune system may trigger the disease, or that an agent might damage the intestinal wall, causing or accelerating the disease process.
In studying the immune systems of Crohn's patients, researchers have found that their immune systems react to normal bacterium found in the digestive tracts of all humans as though they were an invasion enemy and mount an attack to destroy them. Drugs have been designed to turn off the immune system and thenby reduce Crohn's symptoms.
Microbiology studies have related the cause of Crohn's to Johne's disease which is found in cattle and other animals. Using the relatively new technology of DNA and RNA, scientists have isolated MAP (Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis), the bacterium that causes Johne's, in tissue samples of Crohn's patients.
Genetics may well play a role in causing Crohn's disease. Studies have shown that Crohn's is more prevalent in some families than in others and the first Crohn's gene, Nod2, has been identified.
The cause of Crohn's Disease will always be found. It may turn out to be a single cause or a combination of causes. Research continues everyday. When a cause is finally established, scientists will find a cure. There is hope!