DigestScience Foundation: Two Calls for Proposals: One in 2009 and Another in 2011, and Promising Results are Already Showing

By Fondation Digestscience, PRNE
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LOOS, France, March 23, 2011 - DigestScience Foundation has been committed since its inception in 2008
to developing research into Digestive Diseases:

1. 2009/2010: First steps in cell therapy for Crohn's disease.

DigestScience Foundation funded an initial research program to develop a
new therapeutic strategy called cell therapy, which was designed for Crohn's
disease. A year later, the Dutch team under Professor Daniel Men at Leiden
published initial results in the European Gastroenterology journal GUT.

This phase one clinical study was performed on 9 patients suffering from
chronic active Crohn's disease, which is resistant to conventional therapy.
All these patients underwent aspiration of 100ml of bone marrow by local
anaesthesia allowing for the culture, isolation and purification of
mesenchymal stromal cells. Several millions of these cells were then
reinjected intravenously with autograft into patients, twice overall at
weekly intervals (D0 and D7).

The cell therapy was well tolerated, without adverse effects, especially
during the 14 week study period. Clinical response was observed in 3 out of 9
patients, and healing of colonic lesions in 2 out of 9 patients.

This promising major study shows good tolerance and feasibility of
autologous cell therapy in Crohn's disease.

For the first time, it has been clearly demonstrated that mesenchymal
stromal cells derived from the bone marrow of patients with Crohn's disease
have the same morphological and functional properties as those taken from
healthy donors. This discovery has vital consequences: it shows that the
disease does not affect these cells in bone marrow, and therefore justifies
the potential for carrying out autografts.

The therapeutic effects of these cells during Crohn's disease, however,
remains to be evaluated. This study cannot answer this question, because its
aims were to assess the feasibility and safety of cell therapy. Nevertheless
the results are encouraging, since 30% of patients with chronic
treatment-resistant Crohn's disease are now experiencing a conventional
clinical improvement of their disease and 2 out of 9 colonic lesions have
healed. Furthermore, these stromal mesenchymal cells retain their ability to
multiply despite the immunosuppressive treatments used during Crohn's disease
(azathioprine, methotrexate, anti-TNF) and even have a synergistic
anti-inflammatory effect on them.

This is therefore a first encouraging step towards the use of cell
therapy in Crohn's disease. Other results from this DigestScience funded
program are expected shortly. In early March in Dublin at the European
Congress, Daniel Hommes' group gave a presentation on inflammatory intestinal
disease, with a focus on "preparing'' these Mesenchymal stromal cells by
treating them with IFN prior to reinjection in order to increase their
capacity and therapy.

2. 2010/2011: Study of interactions between bacteria and bacteriophages
around the intestinal flora

The European Scientific Council of the DigestScience Foundation launched
this new tender worth EUR500,000 EUR in October 2010. The project selected
was that of an international team, which won thanks to its convincing
originality, thanks also to the quality and scientific expertise of the
different teams involved, and because of its therapeutic, diagnostic and
prophylactic market potentials. This selection places the DigestScience
Foundation at the forefront of scientific innovation.

- An innovative research project leading to many applications, whose
initial results will be due in early 2012.

Bacteriophages and their application in anti-bacterial treatment were
discovered more than a century ago. Though they were quickly "discarded" in
favour of antibiotics, their importance remains vital not only because of the
increasing problems with resistance to antibiotics, but also because of their
precision when targeting a specific pathogen, thus respecting the flora

Bacteriophages are viruses exclusively directed against bacteria. Being
the most numerous biological entity (10 to the power 31) on the planet, these
phages play a vital role in the microbial balance. At the digestive level,
these interactions are so far unknown.

With this initiative, DigestScience is supporting a major project
concerning the understanding and the role of bacteriophages in the intestinal

- The winning team, four world experts in synergy:

1. Lawrence Debarbieux, Department of Microbiology, Institut Pasteur,

2. Arlette Darfeuille-Michaud, University of Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand

3. Mzia Kutateladze, G. Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology
and Virology (IBMV), Tbilisi, Georgia.

4. Christel Neut, Laboratory of Clinical Bacteriology, Faculty of
Pharmacy, Lille

Learn more

DigestScience Foundation

DigestScience, chaired by Professor Pierre Desreumaux, was founded by
scientists and doctors, is supported by large food processing and pharmacy
companies, and is the first recognised public research foundation in France
dedicated to digestive diseases and nutrition. It is located at the Eurasanté
Health Park in Lille.

Supported by patients' associations, DigestScience directly finances
programmes from the world's most innovative research in order to improve the
health of patients with digestive diseases.

Diseases covered by DigestScience include Inflammatory Bowel Disease
(IBD), celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. They are also concerned
with nutrition and its effects on our health.

Chronic Intestinal Inflammatory Diseases

Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases include Crohn's disease and
ulcerative colitis. These diseases, whose cause is poorly understood, result
from an abnormal immune response of the intestine to the components of the
bacterial flora in genetically predisposed individuals. They affect
approximately 200,000 people in France.

5 000 to 6 000 new cases are detected annually, of which over 10% are

The signs of the disease begin mostly between 20 and 40 years of age.
Despite their frequency, they remain largely poorly understood, and even

With often embarrassing or shameful symptoms (regular diarrhoea,
difficulty in controlling one's bowel movements, abdominal pain etc.), these
chronic diseases disrupt and impede our school, work, family and love lives.

The treatments which are currently available can improve the quality life
of the majority of patients, but they cannot cure the disease.

Website: www.digestscience.com

Press Contacts

    DigestScience Foundation

    Dr. Bernadette Lemaire, Director
    Stephanie Lagny, Assistant
    Tel.: +33-03-20-96-81-26 / Fax: +33-03-20-96-86-62
    Email: contact@digestscience.com


Press Contacts: DigestScience Foundation, Dr. Bernadette Lemaire, Director, Stephanie Lagny, Assistant, Tel.: +33-03-20-96-81-26 / Fax: +33-03-20-96-86-62, Email: contact at digestscience.com

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