An international team of researchers has made new links between 29 regions of the genome and ulcerative colitis a common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The new findings increase the total number of genome regions known to be associated with inflammatory bowel disease to 99.
The results point to several biological processes, including the way that our bodies maintain the lining of the intestinal wall, which are likely to play an important role in the development of ulcerative colitis.
The causes of inflammatory bowel disease are not fully understood, although it is thought that patients with inflammatory bowel disease have an overactive immune response against typical gut contents. Together, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease the two primary causes of inflammatory bowel disease affect one in 250 people in Europe, North America and Australasia.
Unlike Crohn's disease, which can impair any part of the human digestive tract, ulcerative colitis is restricted to the large bowel. Up to 20 per cent of ulcerative colitis patients will require surgery to remove the entire large bowel.
"The outcomes and quality of life for patients with ulcerative colitis can be bleak", says Dr. John Rioux, from the Montreal Heart Institute and the Universit de Montral, senior author on the paper, and co-chair of the International IBD Genetics Consortium. "To understand the genetic causes of the disease, we carried out the largest study of the disease to date taking a magnifying glass to over one million sites in the genomes of more than 26,000 people."
"Ultimately, we hope that unmasking the genetic processes that give rise to the disease will minimise the need for surgical outcomes, by opening the door for new therapies that can stop the disease in its tracks."
"With one in 160 Canadians living with either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, we have among the highest rates of IBD in the world," says Dr. Kevin G
|Contact: William Raillant-Clark|
University of Montreal