|IBS and IBD In The News|
Crohn's Disease Gene FoundNature Magazine May 21, 2001
In two new studies being published later this month, researchers have discovered the gene that increases a person's susceptibility to develop Crohn's Disease. The gene was originally found in plants, but also exists in humans. It's the first gene to be discovered in both plants and humans.
The gene in question exists on chromosome 16, and is passed down from parent to child. Families in both the United States and France with a history of Crohn's were studied. About 15 percent of the Crohn's disease patients studied have a version of this gene that is mutated. The mutated gene increases the chance of developing Crohn's disease by about 25 percent.
The gene, called NOD2, is found in cells called monocytes that are defensive in nature. Monocytes are able to swallow up harmful microbes that invade the body.
NOD2 encodes a specific protein that identifies lipopolysaccharides, which are found in the outer membranes of some bacteria. The protein identifies the lipopolysaccharides, and thereby recognizes the invading cells as harmful bacteria. Once identified, the immune system can attack these bacteria and prevent them from damaging the body.
In a person with the mutated gene who has Crohn's disease, the protein is not manufactured properly. Because the protein is altered, it does not effectively identify the offending bacteria.
This groundbreaking research provides hope for a cure for Crohn's disease, but there is still plenty of work to be done. More clues must be uncovered about the way the gene and intestinal bacteria interact with one another. It is also speculated that more genes that just NOD2 may be involved in Crohn's disease. Researchers maintain that current treatment for Crohn's disease will not be affected by the outcome of this study.
Researches working independently in France and the US are publishing the results of their studies in the May 31 issue of Nature magazine. The researchers released their findings early on May 21 at the Digestive Disease week conference being held in Atlanta, GA.