Seafood Solution

WSVN — You may suffer from the occasional upset stomach but for millions, stomach troubles are a chronic, painful condition. But a cure could be found in the catch of the day. 7’s Alexis Rivera has more on a possible seafood solution.

Lobster. Crab. Shrimp. When it comes to a delicious meal, they are some of the kings of the sea, but what if the crustaceans could also help treat debilitating diseases?

Amanda Niklaus: “I never would have guessed that shellfish or something as delicious as that could be a potential help for me.”

Twenty-six-year-old Amanda Niklaus has struggled with Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease since she was just 9-years old.

Amanda Niklaus: “It feels like I have the stomach flu every day. Cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.”

More than one million Americans suffer from some type of inflammatory bowel disease but currently there is no cure.

Like many, Amanda has tried numerous medications.

Amanda Niklaus: “I’ve had minor successes with each, but then they’ve ultimately failed. Right now I’m on a biologic, unfortunately, that’s about $1,500 a month.”

But believe it or not, there might be a future cure for Amanda and other sufferers in shellfish.

Scientists at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in Boca Raton are investigating the possible benefits of something called Chitin.

Dr. Charles Hennekens: “Chitin is a substance that’s found in the shell of the fish that people commonly eat at restaurants, lobster, crabs and other crustaceans.”

FAU researchers found when Chitin was crushed and processed, it reduced inflammatory diseases in mice.

Now thanks to a grant from the National Institutes of Health, scientists want to see if Chitin can help normalize bacteria found in the gut.

Dr. Yoshimi Shibata: “The balance of good and bad bacteria is very important. We are trying to use dietary Chitin to balance back to normal.”

And ultimately prevent or improve the symptoms associated with IBD’s.

Dr. Charles Hennekens: “A large part of the immune system resides in the GI tract, so any agent that can have a positive impact on inflammation in the bowel, might have some very important consequences.”

For Amanda, a cure can’t come soon enough.

Amanda Niklaus: “It’s always exciting to hear about a new possibility and treatment, because I’ve personally run through all of my options.”

Millions of pounds of Chitin are thrown out worldwide, so if an effective anti-inflammatory treatment is found, researchers say it would not be expensive to manufacture.

For More Information:
Chitin research on inflammatory bowel diseases
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431