MAP & Crohn's Disease research

European Commission recommends "urgent research program" into Crohn's disease and MAP


The European Directorate General of Health and Consumer Protection (DG24) has published a 76-page report entitled "Possible Links Between Crohn's Disease and Paratuberculosis," requesting an "urgent research program" to deal with the connection between the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) and Crohn's disease, and to deal with the transmission of MAP to the human population through the food chain.

Stating that "There are sufficient grounds for concern to warrant increased and urgent research activity to resolve the issue", the Commission goes on to recommend a wide range of research that should be conducted as a matter of urgency. These include

  1. Epidemiology. "Large scale epidemiological studies of Crohn's disease patients to examine risk factors, particularly in early life."

  2. Clinical Trials. "Large scale multi-centre double blind drug trials using combination therapy of those drugs liable to be active against MAP, preferably on patients in whom MAP has been detected."

  3. Infection Routes. "Experiments should be carried out both in vitro and in vivo to determine possible methods of transmission."

  4. Collaborative research network. "Facilitating the creation and maintenance of a network of researchers at EU level combining expertise in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases in humans and in mycobacterium sp. infections in animals, would greatly contribute to attaining these goals".


Food and water safety

The report also recommends that detailed studies be carried out to determine the role of the following in the transmission of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis to human beings through the food chain and water supplies.

  1. Milk. "A recent interim report of ongoing work in the United Kingdom has reported the finding of viable Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in ... about 3% of pasteurised samples examined"

  2. Cheese. "Because of its presence in raw milk, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis may be initially present in cheeses made from raw milk from infected animals, or in those made from milk exposed to pasteurisation at lower temperature prior to the cheese-making process. Mycobacterium Avium Complex are generally resistant to acid conditions and are known to be able to resist the acidic conditions created in [immune cells] as part of their strategy for survival within the host cell."

  3. Beef. "Macrophages [immune cells] containing Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis are known to be found throughout the body of animals with the advanced form of Johne's Disease. Most tissues including lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, liver, kidney and lung are affected ..."

  4. Water. "There is a general need to increase the volume and intensity of environmental research into MAP within Europe."


Johne's Disease as a problem in its own right

Recognizing that "Besides losses due to emaciation and death, [MAP] infected animals show decreased productivity, increased infertility and susceptibility to other infections", and that "Paratuberculosis is a serious disease with considerable economic consequences", the report concludes that "Aside from any possible link with Crohn's disease, the development of the necessary tools to eradicate paratuberculosis from animals should also be a priority." and that "All these activities would be greatly accelerated by the availability of the complete genomic sequence of MAP".

Note:  For further information about research being conducted in Europe, including the United Kingdom and Netherlands, please visit the following pages on our website:  Governments,     MAP in Food ,     MAP in Environment   and  Treatment & Diagnosis.

Source:   Contact PARA:
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association, 1999