This release is available in French.
Montreal, January 8, 2009 An international consortium of researchers, including major contribution from a team led by Dr. John D. Rioux, a professor of medicine at the Universit de Montral and the Montreal Heart Institute, has identified genetic markers associated with risk for ulcerative colitis. The findings, published in the advance online 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.
"Our identification of some of the genes that lead to ulcerative colitis are giving us a first look into the causes of this debilitating disease and provides strong leads as to improved diagnosis and treatment," says Dr. Rioux, one of the lead researchers of the study.
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," says 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
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