BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Monday, 21 May, 2001, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Crohn's gene uncovered
DNA
A candidate gene for Crohn's has been discovered
A gene which, if defective, could make people susceptible to Crohn's disease has been isolated by two separate research teams.

The discovery of the gene, called Nod2, could eventually pave the way towards treatments, even though this is thought to be just one of a few genes involved in the development of the disease.

Little progress been made into uncovering the origins of Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition which leads to ulceration of the gut wall.

The symptoms are fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weight loss.

Patients are given drugs to reduce the inflammation, and sometimes require surgery to remove parts of the bowel left scarred and narrowed by repeated outbreaks.


Our hope has always been to identify the various factors that may be causing Crohn's disease

Richard Driscoll, NACC
The two teams, one from the Fondation Jean Daussett CEPH in Paris, and the University of Michigan Medical School in the US, are both presenting their research at the Digestive Disease Week conference.

The Nod2 gene appears to have a role in regulating the body's immune system.

Mutated copies

When defective, the system may run out of control and attack the gut lining, causing the inflammation.

Mutated copies of the gene were present in many patients with Crohn's - although not everyone with the defect will go on to develop the disease.

Crohn's disease affects approximately 40,000 people in the UK, with the numbers rising, particularly among younger people, although doctors are unsure of the reason.

Richard Driscoll, the director of the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (NACC), told BBC News Online: "This sounds like an exciting discovery.

"Our hope has always been to identify the various factors that may be causing Crohn's disease and then find ways to block these factors or switch them off.

"If this announcement really means that the first of these factors has now been discovered it must be very good news for patients."

The two papers on the Nod2 gene will also be appearing in the journal Nature this week.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

21 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Crohn's Disease
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories