Hope for Ulcerative Colitis
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's embarrassing, it's painful and almost a million people suffer in silence. Some too shy to even tell their doctors. Now, a new treatment is changing people's lives.
Leslie Schwartz hopes what's inside a bag will allow him to enjoy life again.
"We've tried just about everything else there is to try," Leslie Schwartz said.
Leslie has ulcerative colitis. That's when ulcers and inflammation form on the lining of the colon and intestine. He's lived with the uncomfortable symptoms and 10 to 15 trips to the bathroom a day, for almost 10 years.
"Very inconvenient because i was bleeding a lot, going to the bathroom a lot," Leslie said.
"It's hard to tell your friends what's wrong, and you just kind of have to withdrawal from life," William Jeffery Sandborn, M.D, a gastroenterology at UC San Diego, explained.
Doctor William Sandborn says patients like Leslie can have surgery, but that means removingthe colon and needing a colostomy bag. Instead, he offered leslie an experimental therapy.
"What we think is happening with this medication is it's promoting healing of that inflamed lining of the bowel," Dr. Sanborn said.
IP10 works by blocking a protein called chemokine, clearing it from the body, so inflammation can't occur. Current drugs can hinder the immune system and lead to infection and even increase the risk of cancer. IP10 promotes healing.
"It seems to be really targeting the colon, so it leaves most of the rest of the body alone and aims to the colon," Dr. Sanborn said.
But if they stop the therapy, symptoms will come back. Leslie has high hopes.
"I want to go back and play golf, too actually," Leslie said. "You know, there's only one restroom between the first and the ninth tee."
Leslie's ready to get back to an active life without an embarrassing problem holding him back.
Patients get an infusion of the drug about every four weeks and so far it's shown good results in a phase one study. It's now in phase two of testing. One interesting fact is smoking actually protects patients from ulcerative colitis. Smokers have about half the risk of developing the disease compared to nonsmokers.
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