In today’s field of biomedical research, studies that utilize genetic methods and cutting edge molecular technology continue to contribute novel insights to the health sciences through valuable, pioneering findings. Such is the case in a groundbreaking, new genetic discovery into Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any region of the gastrointestinal tract, and can manifest as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, fever, and weight loss.
The new study, which was conducted by a group of researchers from the Center for Genomic and Experimental Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, may have uncovered genetic information that could lead to more treatment and management options for this debilitating condition, which has been on the rise for the past 50 years in Scotland, as well as throughout the world.
Jack Satsangi, one of the co-authors of the study, explained recently that they were able to identify characteristic chemical alterations in DNA samples from patients diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and that these changes can be distinguished in an ordinary blood sample. These findings not only hint at a simpler way to diagnose this type of IBD, but reveal new information on how the disease progresses along with potential genetic targets for advancements on treatment. The study is currently available in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases‘ August 26 issue, entitled, “Multidrug Resistance(MDR1) Gene in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Key Player?“
While past studies were successful in identifying specific genes associated with Crohn’s syndrome or regional enteritis, a definite cause-effect relationship could not be established, as not all individuals who carried those genes ended up having the disease.
Satsangi and his team’s research is one of the first to enroll pediatric participants with Crohn’s disease, and highlights the impact that environment can have on diet, gastrointestinal health, and what diseases one could be at risk for. People who carry genes that have a strong attribution to Crohn’s may also have environment-related triggers.
Satsangi believes their study yielded the most compelling findings that link epigenetic changes with Crohn’s disease. Based on what is already known about the disease in terms of genetics, their study was able to outline a strong model that pinpoints environmental factors as a major determinant of developing Crohn’s disease. He hopes their discoveries would prove useful to other scientists looking for better solutions to this form of IBD.
IBD has also been known to cause musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the joints. In another article, a group of researchers identified a pair of proteins that link irritable bowel disorder and bone-loss; a discovery that may contribute to the creation of a breakthrough supplement.