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Home Industry News Scientists uncover genetic link to Crohn’s disease

Scientists uncover genetic link to Crohn’s disease

17th April 2007

Scientists believe they have made an important genetic discovery behind Crohn’s disease (CD) which could help to improve treatment for the condition.

A few months ago variations in genes were found to have a strong link with the disease and now US and Canadian researchers say they have discovered several more variations that raise people’s risk of CD.

The disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract and makes emptying the intestines both painful and frequent.

Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the scientists argue that the discovery of the genetic variants has identified several key biological pathways which will form the focus of future research.

They scanned more than 300,000 parts of about 22,000 genes from both healthy people and those with CD.

Variations in three genes – PHOX2B, NCF4 and ATG16L1 – were found to significantly contribute to the risk for CD.

Dr Steven Brant, co-author and gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins University, said: “The multiple genetic risk factors we’ve identified provide important targets for current functional studies aimed at understanding the disease.

“These will be important targets for drug development to improve therapy of Crohn’s disease in the future.”

Dr Stephen James, director of the division of digestive diseases and nutrition at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, added that “these important discoveries?offer new hope for better therapies for patients with Crohn’s disease”.

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