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New Genes Found for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Children
Date:8/31/2008

childhood tends to be more severe than adult-onset disease, and is more likely to affect the colon than other areas of the GI tract. Those age-related differences in IBD spurred the current research team to do their gene hunting in childhood-onset disease. "Although the gene variants we found may have a stronger signal in pediatric IBD than in adult- onset IBD, we do not believe them to be limited to varieties of the disease that begin in childhood," said Baldassano.

The researchers performed a genome-wide association study, searching for genetic variations in DNA samples from 1,000 patients with childhood-onset IBD, compared to samples from 4,250 healthy subjects. Both patients and controls were of European ancestry.

In addition to finding gene variations previously reported by other groups, the study team identified two novel gene variants, one on chromosome 20 and the other on chromosome 21. They then replicated their findings with studies using additional samples from other sources.

The researchers say that the TNFRSF6B gene on chromosome 20 is a compelling candidate, because it is already known to participate in the biological pathway of a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is a cytokine, a chemical messenger that plays a key role in the harmful inflammation characteristic of IBD.

Some current treatments for IBD use monoclonal antibodies that selectively bind to a type of TNF involved in the disease (Among those drugs are infliximab, adalimumab and certolizumab). "As we better understand the complex gene interactions in IBD, we may be able to diagnose patients by their genetic profile to predict who will better respond to anti-TNF drugs," said Hakonarson. Anti-TNF medications such as those mentioned above are currently given intravenously or as injections, said Baldassano, who added, "If better knowledge of the disease pathway enables pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-TNF drugs in pill form, the medications will b
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SOURCE Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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