University of Wisconsin–Madison

Anti-MAP for Kids with Crohn’s

Drs. Agrawal, Hamblin, Clancy & Borody from the Research Department, Centre for Digestive Diseases, Five Dock, NSW, Australia describe successfully treating Crohn’s disease in children with anti-MAP antibiotics. Their publication, titled “Anti-Mycobacterial Antibiotic Therapy Induces Remission in Active Paediatric Crohn’s Disease” appears in the July 24, 2020 issue of Microorganisms.


Crohn’s disease is increasing in incidence and prevalence in younger people and is of a particularly aggressive nature. One emerging treatment targets Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), an organism implicated in the causation of Crohn’s disease. This study reviewed a cohort of paediatric patients with active Crohn’s disease treated with Anti-Mycobacterial Antibiotic Therapy (AMAT). Sixteen paediatric patients, the majority of whom had failed conventional immunosuppressive therapy, were treated with AMAT. Endoscopic remission was scored using the Simple Endoscopic Score for Crohn’s Disease and clinical remission was assessed using the Weighted Paediatric Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (wPCDAI). Inflammatory blood markers were also routinely recorded. Patients were followed up clinically and endoscopically during treatment after an average of two months (range 1–6) and 17 months (range 2–49), respectively. A significant reduction in both scores assessing clinical improvement (p < 0.001) and mucosal healing (p < 0.0078) was observed at these timepoints; 47% of patients had achieved clinical remission and 63% endoscopic remission. Haemoglobin and serum inflammatory markers normalised for more than 50% of the cohort by six months of treatment. No adverse effects were reported throughout treatment. This is the first report of Anti-Mycobacterial Antibiotic Therapy offering a safe and efficacious therapy for paediatric patients with Crohn’s disease. Further larger randomised studies are required in order to validate these findings.

Author’s Conclusions:

Despite a well-documented aggressive disease presentation and a recent exponential rise in the incidence of paediatric CD, fewer therapies are available in children when compared to the adult population. We examined the safety and efficacy of a combination antibiotic regime consisting of rifabutin, clofazimine and clarithromycin targeting MAP, a proposed contributing factor in the pathogenesis of CD. This study provides a valuable and novel proof of concept regarding the applicability of AMAT to a broad range of clinical presentations in paediatric Crohn’s disease patients. We report no significant side effects as a result of a dose escalated, sustained antibiotic regimen and suggest that AMAT may be more efficacious in the treatment of childhood onset compared with adult onset CD. Furthermore, we observed a notable trend, which proposes that the extent of prior immunosuppressive therapy may predict a longer treatment course with AMAT. Future targeted and more robust RCTs should also focus on sub-populations in terms of disease severity, extent of prior treatment and the time since initial diagnosis prior to the commencement of AMAT.

Comment: Read this for more about MAP in food and water and a list of 29 references to scientific literature. Given the weight of evidence and the severity and magnitude of potential human health problems, the precautionary principle suggests that it is time to take actions to limit “as low as reasonably achievable” human exposure to MAP. Only by controlling MAP in food producing animals can we stop the ongoing exposure of humans to MAP through the food supply.