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New genetic markers for ulcerative colitis identified, researchers report in Nature Genetics
Date:1/4/2009

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 4 An international team led by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers has identified genetic markers associated with risk for ulcerative colitis. The findings, which appear today as an advance online publication of the journal Nature Genetics, bring researchers closer to understanding the biological pathways involved in the disease and may lead to the development of new treatments that specifically target them.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, relapsing disorder that causes inflammation and ulceration in the inner lining of the rectum and large intestine. The most common symptoms are diarrhea (oftentimes bloody) and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, another chronic gastrointestinal inflammatory disorder, are the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

"Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are chronic conditions that impact the day-to-day lives of patients," said senior author of the study Richard H. Duerr, M.D., associate professor of medicine and human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health. "IBD is most often diagnosed in the teenage years or early adulthood. While patients usually don't die from IBD, affected individuals live with its debilitating symptoms during the most productive years of their lives."

Because IBD tends to run in families, researchers have long thought that genetic factors play a role. Technology developed in recent years has enabled systematic, genome-wide searches for gene markers associated with common human diseases, and the discovery of more than 30 genetic risk factors for Crohn's disease has been one of the major success stories in this new era of research. While some genetic factors associated with Crohn's disease also predispose individuals to ulcerative colitis, markers specific for ulcerative colitis had yet to be found. To do so, researchers performed a genome-wi
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Contact: Courtney McCrimmon
McCrimmonCP@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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