In 2014 my Son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, CD. At first we were devastated, as you can imagine. Our once fit and healthy son, who prior to the diagnosis had his whole life ahead of him, was actively involved in sports like cycling and kayaking and had his choice of careers was suddenly compromised. In his first year with the disease he spent approximately 3 months off school, this year he has spent nearly two months off sick. When he is sick, he has crippling stomach cramps, bouts of diarrhea, extreme tiredness and loss of appetite (obviously!). This is horrible for him, he misses the social side of school, misses out of his lessons and has missed the growth spurt he should have had by now, i.e. he is now shorter than most of his friends.
We had no idea what lay ahead of him. At best it meant taking immunosuppressant drugs daily and occasionally needing to take time off school to a course of steroids when he suffers a flare up of his symptoms. At worst it could mean needing to take different (stronger) drugs with worse side effects, longer periods off school taking more steroids and worse of all surgery to remove badly affected areas of the gut and in the long term a great risk of bowel cancer. I don’t like the idea of of taking ‘managing drugs’ every day, there are bound to be long term side effects and the likelihood of surgery and increased risk of cancer is dreadful. However thanks to Professor Herman-Taylor and his team, there is a chance that a permanent cure for Crohn’s Disease can be found.
Prof John Herman-Taylor, of Kings College London, has been working on Crohn’s Disease and it’s relationship to the bacterium, Mycobacterium Avium subspecies Paratuberculosis, MAP. It is his belief, based on evidence from 2007-present day, that MAP is the predominant cause of CD. Prof Herman-Taylor, together with Tim Bull at St George’s and Sarah Gilbert at Oxford University, has developed a modern therapeutic vaccine against MAP. They believe that this vaccine holds the best hope of a cure for Crohn’s. The production of the Crohn’s MAP vaccine has now been taken on is being developed by HAV Vaccines (along with Oxford University’s Jenner Institute). The vaccine has successfully passed the animal trials and is the next stage is ‘proof of concept‘, i.e. human trials, with the final vaccine available to all hopefully in 2018. This seems a long time to wait, but the hope of a light at the end of a tunnel is amazing.
Professor Human-Taylor’s team is currently focusing on completing the tools to assist the vaccine trial, a diagnostic test for MAP. The MAP bacterium is very difficult to study, it hides within cells and is very small and tough. The new test allows MAP to be identified in blood and tissues of CD sufferers, making it possible to measure the degree of MAP infection. The MAP test is in the early stages of clinical trials, to complete the trials an additional £300,000 is required on top of the £170,000 raised for it’s development. I know this doesn’t seem like much to complete this extremely important work –
This is why we need your help – please donate via my JustGiving page to help this work. for more information see the MAP Vaccine infographic below: