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June 25, 2014

United States

Florida–Chitin Alieviates Bowel Disease in Humans


Yoshimi Shibata, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical science at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, has received a $380,552 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the anti-inflammatory potential of of chitin micro-particles from the shells of lobsters, crabs and shrimp.  His research could lead to the development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for individuals who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and others diseases.  Current medications for IBD include antibiotics, corticosteroids and other biologic anti-inflammatory drugs that are costly and don’t always work.  Chitin is abundant, relatively inexpensive, easy to prepare, non-toxic, biodegradable and non-allergenic, making it safe for oral ingestion as a dietary food supplement.


Many scientists now believe that most—or perhaps all—chronic diseases stem from chronic inflammation, which plays a direct role in diseases such as IBD, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma and many other diseases. “Under normal conditions, inflammation is a process that actually protects health and promotes healing by mobilizing the immune system to attack invading bacteria and kill them through the immune system reaction,” said Shibata.  “Chronic inflammation on the other hand harms instead of heals because the immune system attack never stops.”


Lobster, crab and shrimp shells contain carbohydrates, calcium and protein.  Shibata and his colleagues removed the calcium and protein from the shells, creating carbohydrates that are similar to bacteria, called mimetic microbes.  They have developed an oral form of this substance as a dietary supplement.  The team has demonstrated that oral administration the dietary supplement reduced allergic asthma, food allergies, colitis and food borne infections in animals, and in humans, it reduced seasonal allergies.


The team has also conducted additional studies to advance its understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of chitin micro-particles on macrophage activation.  “In this new study, we are going to focus on intestinal macrophages and how these mimetic microbes...can produce anti-inflammatory activities, normalize the gut bacterial flora and ultimately improve the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease,” said Shibata.


According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, more than 1.4 million Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and approximately 70,000 new cases of IBD are diagnosed each year.  Children under the age of 18 are the fastest growing population of IBD patients. “The causes of inflammatory bowel disease and the factors that influence its activity are not known,” said David J. Bjorkman, M.D., M.S.P.H., a gastroenterologist and dean and executive director of medical affairs for FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.  “The impact of this condition can range from mild to severe debilitation.”


Information: Yoshimi Shibata, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Science, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University (phone 1-561-297-0606, fax 1-561-297-2221, email, webpage


Source:  Crab and Other Crustacean Shells May Help Prevent and Treat Inflammatory Disease. Florida Atlantic University.  June 24, 2014.

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