Possible new treatment for digestive conditions

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Canada (Commonwealth Union) – Inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease can be a serious obstacle to quality of life. Individuals having inflammatory bowel diseases develop inflammation of the intestine that may result in thickening of the gut wall and possibly fatal blockage of the intestinal tube. Around 20 to 50% of people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis get impacted over their lifetimes by the little-known condition, referred to as “fibrosis”.

Dr. Simon Hirota, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Host-Microbe Interactions and Chronic Disease, who is also member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine, stated that presently no treatments other than surgery have been approved to take out the blocked part of the intestine.

New research led by Hirota that was published in the journal Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, paves the way for the production of a possible treatment for fibrosis. The study saw the participation of scientists at the University of Calgary together with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Researchers evaluated bacteria residing in the human gut, known as the “the inner tube of life” releasing microbial metabolites that obstruct inflammation and gut wall thickening. For individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases, these metabolites are at lower levels, as are the natural sensors that the body utilizes to identify them.

Dr Hirota stated that while repair in the gut was required post injury, the “over-exuberant” continuous fixing seen with inflammatory bowel diseases paves the way for disease-causing modifications in the gut wall. “We’re now starting to think about not only the lining of the gut playing a role in sensing and responding to metabolites, but also the fibroblast cells just below the lining,” said Dr Hirota.

The study received support from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, together with the Dr. Lloyd Sutherland Chair in IBD/GI (gastrointestinal) Research held by Hirota.

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