Scientists find the driver of inflammatory bowel disease

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Researchers have made a significant discovery about how a specific type of cell changes its behavior, leading to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This new knowledge could pave the way for more effective treatments for patients suffering from this debilitating condition.

A Quick Overview of IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease affects more than 3 million Americans and can severely disrupt daily life. The most common forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Unlike irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which has similar symptoms but is not as severe, IBD involves inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

This inflammation can cause permanent damage to the intestines and lead to other serious health problems, including a higher risk of colon cancer. A colonoscopy usually diagnoses IBD by directly observing the inflamed areas.

The Cell That Changes Sides

The focus of the research was on cells known as Th17 cells. These cells usually act as the good guys in our gut, helping to maintain a healthy intestinal barrier and protecting us from harmful bacteria and viruses.

However, in people with IBD, these Th17 cells turn into the bad guys, causing inflammation and the resulting painful symptoms.

Dr. Venuprasad Poojary, the study leader from UT Southwestern Medical Center, explained how they discovered the internal process that makes these cells change sides.

In simple terms, a protein named Raftlin1 sticks to a specific part of the Th17 cells. Once attached, it attracts other elements in the body to join the mix, and this combination turns the Th17 cells harmful.

Why This Discovery Matters

Understanding the role of Raftlin1 and its interaction with Th17 cells is a big deal because it can help scientists develop new treatments specifically targeting these changes.

Current therapies for IBD don’t work for about one-third of patients, so there’s a pressing need for new and effective treatments.

The study expands on previous work that explored cells related to IBD, adding a crucial piece to the puzzle. Th17 cells have already been a focus in treating some autoimmune diseases successfully.

With this new understanding, medical experts can start exploring ways to prevent Th17 cells from becoming harmful, thus potentially reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms for IBD patients.

“In short, these findings could serve as a launching pad for new strategies to control inflammation caused by Th17 cells, not just in IBD but possibly in other diseases as well,” said Dr. Poojary.

The promise of better treatments for IBD patients could become a reality sooner than we think, thanks to groundbreaking studies like this.

If you care about gut health, please read studies that eating nuts may help reduce risks of gut lesion and cancer, and heavy antibiotic use linked to this dangerous gut disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to chronic inflammation, and tart cherry could help reduce inflammation.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

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