Hope for New Crohn's Disease Tx
Genetic changes that occur in patients with a type of inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease could hold clues to fighting the illness, according to research led by the University of Edinburgh in the UK and published August 26th 2014 in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Currently, there is no way to prevent Crohn’s disease and therapy is focused on treating the symptoms, which may include abdominal pain, diarrhea and severe weight loss.
A release from the university notes that scientists identified chemical changes in the DNA of patients with Crohn’s disease that could help to screen people for the disease. These changes can be detected in blood samples, which opens the door to a simple test for Crohn’s disease.
The findings also offer clues to how the condition develops and reveal possible targets for new treatments. Several genes have been linked to Crohn’s disease but not everybody who inherits these genes will develop the condition. The discovery sheds light on how environmental factors that vary between individuals – such as diet and gut bacteria – can trigger Crohn’s disease in some people who have inherited these genes.
The study identified chemical changes in the DNA of Chron’s disease patients that affect how their genes work. The genes that are affected by these changes could represent useful targets for new treatments, the scientists say. A DNA test alone would not be enough to diagnose the disease but it could pinpoint those at most risk and help to reduce the number of people who are put forward for further tests. It could also help to monitor progression of the disease and how patients respond to treatment.
The release quotes Professor Jack Satsangi from the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine at the University of Edinburgh as saying, “Our study gives the strongest evidence yet that epigenetic changes are involved in Crohn’s disease. The findings provide a potential mechanism whereby diet or other environmental factors may modify genetic material to cause Crohn’s disease. We hope the findings will help to identify much-needed treatment opportunities for this debilitating condition.”