A NEW clinical trial has begun in Oxford for what could be a revolutionary treatment for Crohn’s disease.

The study will use stem cell transplants to grow a new immune system in patients with untreatable Crohn's disease.

The condition causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system, and results in diarrhoea, abdominal pain, extreme tiredness and other symptoms that significantly affect quality of life.

Current treatments include drugs to reduce inflammation but these have varying results, and surgery is often needed to remove the affected part of the bowel.

In extreme cases, after multiple operations over the years, patients may require a stoma to be fitted.

Professor of clinical gastroenterology at Oxford University Simon Travis, the consultant gastroenterologist who will be leading the study at Oxford University Hospitals, said the current treatments are only effective in around a third of Crohn's sufferers.

Prof Travis said: "The way the new treatment is thought to work is by re-setting the patient's immune system.

"So drugs that may have stopped working can work, and in some cases patients can stop needing any treatment at all."

The study follows on from a decade of research carried out by prof Travis in which the stem cell treatment has been seen to produce promising results.

The new study is funded with £2m from a Medical Research Council and NIHR.