Cleveland Researcher Finds Fungus Combines With Bad Bacteria in Crohn's Disease

Oct 5, 2017

A common fungus partners with bacteria in the gut to create a biofilm that's resistant to treatment and worsens the damage of Crohn's Disease.
Credit MAHMOUD GHANNOUM / CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have revealed how interactions between bacteria and fungi in the human gut exacerbate the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

The discovery may lead to new ways of treating the debilitating intestinal disorder.

Nearly 2 million Americans suffer from Crohn’s Disease and the related ulcerative colitis.

Mahmoud Ghannoum says researchers have long overlooked the role fungi play in inflammatory bowel diseases.

Mahmoud Ghannoum is a Professor and Director of the Center for Medical Mycology at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
Credit CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

He found that ‘bad’ bacteria in Crohn’s patients forms a partnership with a fungus that makes intestinal inflammation worse.

“Our study showed that’s not only bacteria but also fungi work together to cause this aggravation,” says Ghannoum.

He says in order to treat people with Crohn’s, it’s important to understand the variety of organisms causing problems.

“In order to feel better, in order to try to find new ways to improve these inflammatory symptoms associated with Crohn’s, we have to address not only bacteria, but also fungi.”

He says the discovery should open the door to a better understanding of the complexity of the organisms causing Crohn’s.

“And that’s where we really need to start to think of new ways to manipulate and maintain the balance of good micro-organisms in our gut.”

Ghannoum  is currently studying how specific diets and probiotics can help restore balance in the gut.

He recommends a diet low in carbohydrates as well as avoiding over-use of antibiotics as part of the treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases.

Dr Mahmoud Ghannoum_Microbiome_2016 from Virology Education on Vimeo.