By Christin Senior | August 29, 2018 3:18 pm

An extract from sesame oil may provide an alternative therapy for patients with Crohn’s disease, according to a clinical trial by College of Medicine researchers who are seeking study participants.

More than half a million people in the United States have Crohn’s – an inflammation of the digestive tract that causes severe diarrhea, forcing many sufferers to be home-bound. Current anti-inflammatory treatments are expensive, require injections, can cause serious side effects and aren’t always successful. So UCF researchers are investigating whether the anti-inflammatory properties of sesame oil can provide relief.

Leading the trial is Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy, Florida Hospital Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences, whose studies have shown that an extract from sesame oil helps reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis. Because Crohn’s patients show elevated levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, Dr. Parthasarathy’s team is optimistic that sesame oil will be therapeutic for them as well.

“By finding natural and dietary means of reducing gut inflammation, we could lower the cost and potential side effects of long-term traditional drug therapy,” said Dr. Chandrakala Aluganti, a College of Medicine assistant scholar and scientist who is working on the study.

The team hopes to get 20 to 25 volunteers for the clinical trial, currently in Phase II. Volunteers will not be compensated for their participation. To be considered, they must be between the ages of 18 and 75, have been diagnosed with Crohn’s, and have no known nut allergies or current infections.

At the onset of the study, volunteers will have their blood drawn before taking any sesame oil extract. They’ll then be given a supplement to take each day in the morning and evening for one month, and must keep a log detailing their diet and symptoms. Blood drawn at the end of the study will be compared with the initial draw to see if inflammatory markers have decreased.

One of the scientists participating in the study is Michael Rohr, who became UCF’s first-ever M.D./Ph.D. candidate in 2016. Rohr wants to become a physician-scientist treating chronic diseases, and said he welcomes the opportunity to use his research skills to positively impact patient health.

“I hope that this study is able to beneficially alter nutritional guidelines while providing a safer and more natural alternative treatment for those with Crohn’s disease,” he said.

For more information about the clinical trial, call (407) 266-7120.

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