The team carried out a genome-wide scan to look for changes in the genetic code common to patients with ulcerative colitis. They did this by looking at genetic data from more than 32,000 apparently healthy people, and more than 16,000 people suffering from ulcerative colitis.
Using the technique, the team homed in on 29 new regions that are associated with the disease bringing the total number for ulcerative colitis to 47 and the total for inflammatory bowel disease to 99.
Like signposts, these regions pointed the researchers towards several genes that might play an important role in ulcerative colitis.
"The genomic regions we have identified give us an insight into the biology underlying ulcerative colitis," says Dr. Carl Anderson, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and first author on the paper. "These important initial discoveries are the building blocks on which we can begin to derive better IBD treatments, though much further work is needed before these become a clinical reality. "
"To give us a better understanding of IBD biology, we compared the results of this ulcerative colitis study to those of a similar study we recently completed looking at Crohn's disease, and the results were very informative."
The team found significant overlap between the genetic regions associated with each disease, with at least 19 of the total 47 ulcerative colitis regions also associated with Crohn's disease.
The researchers show that many of the overlapping regions include genes involved in expanding and maintaining a group of T-cells involved in our immune response. The finding supports the idea that the way our immun
|Contact: William Raillant-Clark|
University of Montreal