Researchers have found that a certain nutritional powder, consumed by astronauts, may be the answer to treating inflammatory bowel disease in children.
Lead researcher Dr. Raanan Shamir of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and Schneider Children's Medical Centre revealed that a nutritional formula mixed with water - first developed for astronauts - puts 60-70pct of children with Crohn's disease, a common IBD disorder, into remission.
"Prepared powder, with liquids, gives you all the nutritional requirements you need for the day," said Shamir.
"We don't know why these formulas work, and nobody has shown that any one formula is preferable to another.
"People have to be committed and eat nothing else during the period of time they are on nutrition therapy, and it is difficult to do - but if they do it, they go into remission," Shamir added.
To induce remission, children need to be on nutrition therapy for 6-8 weeks.
Moreover, 25-50pct of their caloric intake must be supplied by nutrition therapy, sometimes for years.
"In adults, studies have shown that steroids are more effective in the battle against IBD than nutrition-based therapies. I think it is easier to get compliance from children, especially when it involves their growth," said Shamir.
"For adults, growth is not a concern - they just want to feel better," he added.
Shamir said that the next step in his research is to "define exactly the role of nutrition in inducing remission in these patients, and the role of nutrition in maintaining remission.
The research appears in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.