Scientists at The University of Nottingham are investigating whether stem cell markers could have a role to play in speeding up wound healing in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The study could eventually lead to the development of new drugs which use natural molecules to spark the recovery of patients suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, reducing their risk of associated complications such as scarring, bowel obstructions and tumour growth.
Funded with a 118,500 grant from the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (NACC), the two-year project is being led by Professor Mohammad Ilyas in the University's Division of Pathology.
He said: "The study will focus on the molecule CD24 which is a stem cell marker and which plays a key role in cell proliferation and the migration of healthy cells to a damaged area to restore normal tissue.
"CD24 is a small molecule attached to the cell membrane which has been recently reported as a marker of stem cells in the colon. It occurred to us that CD24 might have a role to play in IBD and during further studies we found that it was indeed present in sections of diseased bowel."
IBD affects around one in 400 people in the UK. Common symptoms include inflammation and ulceration of the intestine and colon, pain, severe diarrhoea, tiredness and weight loss. The cause of the disease is yet to be definitively identified, although scientists believe it could be due to a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Currently, there is no cure and patients manage their condition with a mixture of lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory drugs and, in severe cases, surgery.
Professor Ilyas added: "The power of the gut to heal the damage caused by acute episodes of inflammation is remarkable and frequently the gut lining reverts to normal. Anti-inflammatory drugs help this process along and allow the wound healing
|Contact: Professor Mohammad Ilyas|
University of Nottingham