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DNA from common stomach bacteria minimizes effects of colitis, U-M study says
Date:5/5/2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich. DNA from Helicobacter pylori, a common stomach bacteria, minimizes the effects of colitis in mice, according to a new study by University of Michigan Medical School scientists.

The study published in Gut this month was performed by a team of investigators assembled by senior author John Y. Kao, M.D. of the University of Michigan's Division of Gastroenterology and assistant professor in U-M's Department of Internal Medicine. The findings indicate that DNA from H. pylori significantly ameliorates the severity of colitis, say lead authors Jay Luther, M.D. and Stephanie Owyang, an undergraduate student on the team.

Colitis involves inflammation and swelling of the large intestine that leads to diarrhea and abdominal pain. Approximately 3.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from colitis.

More than half of the people in the world are infected with H. pylori, although only about 20 percent of U.S. residents have it. In the U.S., H. pylori infection is treated in patients with stomach ulcers or cancers with antibiotics, but the majority of infected individuals don't notice they have it and may not develop ulcers or cancers. "This research shows further evidence that we should leave the bugs alone because there may be a benefit to hosting them in the stomach", says Kao.

"H pylori has co-existed with the human race for more than 50,000 years and although it is linked with peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer, only a minority of infected patients will develop those complications," says Luther, adding that less than 15 percent of H. pylori-infected patients develop peptic ulcer disease and less than 1 percent develop cancer.

The researchers aren't advocating infecting people with H. pylori to treat colitis, but say this may indicated that those already carrying the bacteria should not be treated unless they develop symptoms. These findings also raise signific
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Contact: Mary F. Masson
mfmasson@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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