World MAP Day, a chance to share news of advances in the battle against an insidious pathogen which increasing evidence points to as a cause of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) called Crohn’s.
Mycobacterium Avium subspecies Paratuberculosis (MAP) is known to cause Johne’s disease in cattle. It is a hardy soil organism related to Tuberculosis which is extremely difficult to eradicate and which pervades our food chain, in particular in beef and dairy produce, including most worryingly infant formula. It is also rife in the environment including our water supplies.
Despite the rapidly expanding body of evidence linking MAP with Crohn’s disease (and possibly other ‘autoimmune’ diseases also), MAP is not currently recognised as a cause of human disease. Hence the impetus to minimise human exposure to MAP and fund research to develop new diagnostics and treatments is lacking; meanwhile the threat to global public health continues unchecked. You can read more about MAP here.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include severe abdominal pain, weight loss, bloody diarrhoea and chronic fatigue. Approximately 80% of patients will need surgery at some point in their lifetime and it can be fatal. There is currently no cure and the lives of most are blighted by multiple hospitalisations, surgeries and immuno-suppressive therapies, which often have nasty side effects. As a result many people have difficulty holding down a job or attending school.
We know we’re not painting a pretty picture here. But there is hope!
Last year saw the fruition of decades of work by Professor Hermon-Taylor, whose therapeutic vaccine against MAP – developed as a potential treatment for Crohn’s disease – was injected into the arms of twelve healthy volunteers in a trial of the first ever human vaccine against MAP. This was a Phase I trial to assess safety and immunogenicity and it has worked well. Oxford’s prestigious Jenner Institute ran this initial trial and will be following up in the coming months with further testing. We are excited!
And the date of that first injection? It was 15 March 2017. Exactly one year ago today.
On World MAP Day we would like you to arm yourself with information about MAP by reading and sharing the website, helping to raise awareness or fundraising to support MAP research (you can see many of the CMV Heroes’ Just Giving pages here).
If you or someone you love has Crohn’s, please take the time to talk to your specialist about MAP; many doctors are now understanding its role in human disease much better than they used to.
Even if you don’t have an IBD, we would ask you to share this information widely, as we believe it is important for the public to know about MAP. We have over 36000 followers on Facebook and we are also on Twitter.