PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is a serious digestive disease of the small intestine and colon, and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Now, doctors are testing a new use for an existing drug in the hopes that some pediatric patients can find relief.

At first glance, Gabriella looks like a happy, healthy child- teaching her sister math, and taking care of the family pets, but she has had inflammatory bowel disease since the age of four.

“She, by that point, was very sick. She had really bad diarrhea, loose stools. When she would go, the toilet was filled with blood,” Lisa Didio, Gabriella’s mother explained to Ivanhoe.

Lisa began searching for a treatment and doctors who could help her daughter.

Andrew B. Grossman, MD, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Co-Director of Center for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explained, “This is a very complicated disease where everyone is different than everybody else. You have to have a genetic predisposition and with some environmental trigger, which we usually can’t figure out on an individual basis.”

IBD causes inflammation which then causes ulcers. Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have begun using the drug Remicade to treat some patients.

“It was discovered that treatment with this medication which was not initially for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, resulted in improvement, but unfortunately there was not a 100 percent response rate to this medication,” Dr. Grossman stated.

Lisa is so relieved that Remicade has made a remarkable difference in her daughter, who is now nine years old.

“She’s a normal kid again. I mean, she’s able to be a child and play. And, she does sports now, and she is back to dancing,” said Didio.

Pediatric alternatives to Remicade include a special diet administered through a feeding tube and immunomodulators, which reduce the autoimmune response leading to inflammation. Dr. Grossman says each child responds differently to treatment forms, so be sure to check with your doctor.