Scientists have discovered genetic variants that predispose people to the common inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis, according to a study published online in Nature Genetics.
Ulcerative colitis is a common inflammatory disorder of the intestine. Although individuals with first-degree relatives who are affected are known to be at higher risk, the individual genes involved have not been established. Stefan Schreiber and colleagues carried out the first genome-wide association study of colitis and report several variants that increase risk of the disease. Most interestingly, the scientists found a variant immediately alongside the gene encoding interleukin 10, a factor secreted by a range of cells of the immune system. The administration of interleukin 10 to individuals with colitis has been reported to have a positive effect in initial studies, although this potential therapy has not been assessed more thoroughly.
The authors propose that clinical trials should be carried out to test how effective interleukin 10 is in treating ulcerative colitis.
Stefan Schreiber (Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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