Thursday, November 01, 2012

Canada Researchers from Hotchkiss Brain Institute & Snyder Institute for Chronic Illness Discover New Findings for the Developing Treatments for IBD

This is a few moths old, but thought it was a good read and pretty interesting. 

Monday March 19, 2012

Research provides new hope for those suffering from Crohn’s Disease
Calgary, Alberta- Researchers from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) and the Snyder
Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine have
discovered a pathway that may contribute to the symptoms related to Crohn’s disease and
ulcerative colitis, collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  This
research is a major milestone in developing future drug therapies for those living with
these debilitating disorders.
The digestive process is complex.  To coordinate the many functions involved in
digestion, the gut has its own set of nerve cells (neurons), often called the “second brain”.
Crohn’s disease is characterized by inflammation in the gut, leading to damage or death
of millions of these neurons lining the gastrointestinal tract.  As a consequence, patients
are left with a host of debilitating symptoms including abdominal pain and numerous
disruptive digestive conditions.  Using translatable animal models, these new research
findings have identified “pannexins” as molecules that mediate gut neuron death and, as
such, may allow for the development of new treatments to prevent it.
“Our work identifies a critical mechanism of neuron death in intestinal inflammation that
appears relevant to IBD,” says Brian Gulbransen, PhD, the study’s lead author and a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary’s HBI.  “We used animal models of
intestinal inflammation to show that blocking the “pannexins” was able to prevent gut
neuron death.  Interestingly, we found the “pannexins” involved in the death of mouse
gut neurons are also present in human gut neurons.”
Canada has one of the highest incidences of IBD in the world and it affects over 200,000
Canadians.  Previously, researchers could not identify the cause of gut neuron death, and
therefore no therapeutic strategies exist to prevent it.  Current IBD treatment options are
limited to controlling inflammation, which frequently leaves patients to still suffer with
chronic gut dysfunction.  “Although our research will not cure IBD, these findings could
lead to developing therapeutics for the debilitating symptoms in those who suffer from
Crohn’s disease,” says Keith Sharkey PhD, the senior author of the paper, the Crohn’s &
Colitis Foundation of Canada Chair in IBD Research, and member of the Snyder Institute
and Deputy Director of the HBI, at the University of Calgary.
This study is published in the April print edition of the prestigious journal Nature
Medicine (available online March 19)

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