Rutgers Researchers Work Toward Cure for IBD by Studying a Specific Intestinal Cell

Rutgers Researchers Work Toward Cure for IBD by Studying a Specific Intestinal Cell
The painful and often debilitating condition called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is caused by a dysregulated immune response to the host intestinal bacteria. Nan Gao, assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N), and his colleagues are studying a specific intestinal cell called Paneth to see whether it is the cause of IBD – and if altering the behavior of the cell can eliminate the disease. Paneth is part of the the mucosal layer that lines the intestinal wall, and has the immune function to emit anti-microbial peptides to destroy bacteria that live in the gut. The normal functioning of Paneth cells creates a defense for the intestinal wall against bacteria invasion. When the functioning of the Paneth cell is impaired – possibly due to gene mutations – bacteria can penetrate the intestinal wall’s lining and start degrading its main structure, which triggers the immune system to fight back. The immune response of most people is beneficial; but in some – possibly because of gene mutations – the attack is too powerful and triggers inflammation. According to Gao, in IBD the patient’s own immune system destroys the intestinal tissue. “People (...) can suffer from abdominal pain and cramping,” GAO said in a RU-N news release. “It has a great effect on people’s lives because there is no clear treatment for it. We also believe it can lead to colon cancer.” In 2015, RU-N provided $80,000 in funding to Gao’s lab through one of six
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