The Need For Research into Crohn’s and Colitis

Since 2000, The Gutsy Group, Inc. has successfully funded (or co-funded) four important research projects which have covered ground breaking research into Crohn’s and colitis. In one project, three researchers were awarded Gold Medals from the Gastroenterology Society of Australia. In total, funds of $857,000 has been provided by the Gutsy Group to support Research projects since inception. $250,000 of this is supporting current projects.

We raise funds to find improved treatments and a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), because IBD is common in the community and affects over 70,000 people. In any one year it has a greater rate of new cases diagnosed than epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia2. The prevalence of IBD in Australia is 360.5 people per 100,000 which is one of the highest rates in the world. It is second only to Canada where the reported rate is 369.2 per 100,0003. Furthermore, the rate of new cases in Australia is increasing4.

The characteristics of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are debilitating and embarrassing. Few patients are prepared to speak openly about their chronic condition and daily challenges. Many view their symptoms as undignified and something to hide. Embarrassing symptoms like the urgent need for a bathroom, loose bloody bowel motions and abdominal pain ensure that Crohn’s and colitis largely remain undiscussed and unnoticed in the workplace and community. Additionally, some patients may require extensive physically deforming surgery, while many others may be placed on toxic medication to manage their condition which may last a lifetime.

The onset of Crohn’s and colitis usually occurs in teenagers or young adults, thereby affecting them in the prime of their professional, social and personal lives. When IBD strikes children and adolescents, their growth may be retarded and/or there may be a delay in the onset of puberty. Children also find it difficult to deal with IBD. Sometimes the adverse social implications of carrying this disease become significant. Aconstant requirement to be close to toilet facilities and occasional incontinence can occur. People who have had Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis for over 10 years also carry an increased risk of developing cancer of the colon and rectum.

The exact cause of IBD is unknown and it is therefore incurable. However, unlike multiple sclerosis and the other conditions which affect young people, IBD, due to the nature of the condition, is rarely discussed. Most people who do not know of someone with the condition are unlikely to have ever heard of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. As a result, IBD has not been the beneficiary of comparable research funding.

From an economic perspective there is also a compelling reason to support research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In 2005 the estimated financial cost in Australia was $500 million, and the net disease burden was $2.2 billion.

Great advances have been made in recent years to both understanding the origin and developing the treatment of IBD. However, it will only be through funding of essential research that the quality of life for patients suffering from Crohn’s and colitis will improve and a cure found. Donate today to help us conduct this important research – all donations go directly towards research.

  1. The Cost of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Australia, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report undertaken by the Program Evaluation Unit School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, March 2006.
  2. The Economic Costs of Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, Access Economics, 9 June 2007.
  3. The Cost of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Australia, Loc.cit.
  4. The Economic Costs of Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, Loc.cit