Genetic susceptibility is thought to play a role in common diseases including those affecting the colon such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and colorectal cancer. As is the case for genomic variants in general, a number of these variants are located in gene deserts and their functional roles in disease pathogenesis are largely unknown. Now, a study from researchers at Cedars-Sinai shows that a major type of IBD may be caused in part by genetic variants that prevent beneficial bacteria in the gut from doing their job. The team state that their findings identify a completely novel mechanism through which these genes may lead to an increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease. The study is published in the journal Science.
Previous studies show that bacteria historically have been regarded as an enemy of the body, however, more recently bacterial types have been identified as beneficial to health, especially in the case of IBD. The current study shows the beneficial effects of Bacteroides fragilis bacterium, one of billions of microscopic organisms that normally inhabit the human gastrointestinal system, were negatively impacted by variations in the ATG16L1 gene.
The current study utilised both a mouse model and human specimens for Crohn’s disease. Results show that genetic variations in the ATG16L1 gene increases the risk of developing Crohn’s disease, one of the two common forms of IBD. Data findings show that the bacteria were prevented from carrying out one of their critical functions, namely, suppressing inflammation of the intestinal lining.
The lab explain that patients with Crohn’s disease suffer from inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, often resulting in severe abdominal pain and weight loss as well as symptoms outside the gut, including arthritis. They go on to add that given the low percentage of IBD patients who respond to drugs directed at the immune system, their results could point the way to improving treatment by identifying patients who might best respond to manipulation of bacteria in their digestive tract.
The team surmise that their findings have implications for treating Crohn’s disease as well as other immune disorders that share similar genetic variations. For the future, the researchers state their work is a critical step in developing specific therapies that can provide more effective and precision treatments for patients.
Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.
Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.
Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.
Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.
Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.
An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.