Health

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Scientists Identify Genes Linked to Crohn’s Disease

July 09, 2008 03:00 PM
by Denis Cummings
The breakthrough will help doctors identify who is at risk for Crohn’s disease and design better treatments.

30-Second Summary

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A study released in Nature Genetics announced the discovery of an additional 21 genes linked to Crohn’s disease, raising the total number to 32. Researchers predict that the number may rise to over 100 in the next few years.

Crohn’s disease (CD) is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects a half-million Americans, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea. It is closely related to colitis and colon cancer.

The recent findings illustrate the complexity of CD and the difficulty researchers face in finding a cure. Researchers will focus on creating drug treatments for several important genes known as “druggable targets.” They have already identified two genes involved in the immune response —IL23R and CCR6—as potential targets.

The findings will help doctors better identify who is at risk, but it is impossible to determine who will contract the disease. Also, there is currently no way to prevent the disease.

The researchers also found a link between Crohn’s disease and asthma. The gene ORMDL3, previously identified as a risk factor for childhood asthma, was identified as one of the 32 genes associated with CD.

Headline Links: Researchers discover Crohn’s disease genes

Background: Study of Crohn’s disease genes

Reference: Crohn’s disease and Nature Genetics study

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