Crohn’s patient volunteers to help develop medicine of the future

3 min to read

Approximately 20 years ago Andy Sturt visited his GP with severe vomiting and diarrhoea

Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, is a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the gut. The exact cause is unknown and there is currently no cure, but treatments can improve the symptoms and maintain remission.  Here we talk to a Crohn’s disease sufferer about how it affects him and why he decided to do a clinical trial with Quotient.

Approximately 20 years ago Andy Sturt visited his GP with severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Initially misdiagnosed as food poisoning, Andy lost 6 stone in 3 weeks and became so poorly he was hospitalised. He was in fact suffering from flare-ups relating to Crohn’s disease. Symptoms can include bouts of vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, but sufferers can think they are caused by other conditions. After a number of tests, it was confirmed Andy had Crohn’s disease.

There is no cure for the disease, but current treatments can help to reduce the inflammation and the symptoms.  The aim of the treatments is to put the disease into remission so patients don’t experience symptoms and to maintain it like this for as long as possible.

In the first 10 years after his diagnosis Andy was prescribed, and tried, lots of different drugs, but around 6 years ago he chose to come off medication and manage his symptoms with diet and exercise. Unfortunately, after a bad chest infection he couldn’t exercise and so began the flare-ups.

Andy suffers with four or five flare-ups a year which are often triggered by tiredness, stress and, in Andy’s case, his condition sometimes worsened by food stuffs like lemons and peanuts. This is not the case for every patient, as each individual case will vary and there will be varying triggers.  The flare-ups are extremely debilitating and his symptoms include diarrhoea, sickness, stomach cramps, mouth ulcers and no energy. He may also need to rush to the toilet up to 15 times a day – obviously this affects all aspects of his life. When a flare-up occurs, Andy must take a course of steroids to control the symptoms.

Andy is in now in his early 40’s and has three children who are all aged under 10. He has to manage family life with a full time job and the flare-ups of Crohn’s. He volunteered on a study with us as he wanted to help to develop a new treatment that may assist sufferers in the future.

Here we ask Andy about why he decided to take part on a study with Quotient and he shares with us his experience as a volunteer

Why did you decide to do a study with Quotient?

I have suffered for so long and tried so many drugs and wanted to help others that have been newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I also wanted other sufferers not to go through the experience I had to go through when I was misdiagnosed and also help to develop a treatment that works.

How did you hear about the study?

I had a chest infection at the start of the year which caused three flare-ups about six weeks apart and I was referred to a new specialist at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. He suggested going on the study at Quotient.  I decided it seemed like a good idea and I was referred by the specialist on the Thursday, Quotient checked my details on the Monday and I was admitted for the study the following Monday.

How much time was involved in the study?

The study involved a five day stay (Monday to Friday) in the unit at Quotient, which was very relaxing and gave me time to chill-out. I was admitted two days before the medicine was given to me and then after taking the medicine, I was confined to the ward for the following 24 hours. I was monitored intensively throughout and I spent the remaining time chilling within the unit. There were frequent tests including checking my blood, blood pressures etc. Following the stay in the unit, there were four further out-patient visits for additional tests.

Would you take part in another study?

Yes – I was pleasantly surprised at how large the unit was, the atmosphere was so relaxed and there were plenty of things for me to do whilst on the study. I read lots (books and newspapers provided!) and also played on an Xbox.

Would you recommend Quotient to other volunteers?

Definitely – the staff made me feel at ease as soon as I arrived and they were very friendly and helpful. I have to say I was very well looked after.

For more information about Crohn’s disease visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

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