This unique protein can help doctors treat the symptoms of IBD.
If you have some type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the general term for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions that include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), you are likely to have experienced uncomfortable inflammation in your daily life.
IBD is a challenge for doctors, since there is no treatment that works for everyone and the exact cause is unknown.
Now, new research has identified a protein that drives inflammation.
Published this month in the journal Cell Reports, these findings are significant because they could lead to better targeted treatments for people with IBD in the future.
What did the study find?
In the study, researchers at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) in La Jolla, California, in collaboration with Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, found that a gene called RNF5 regulates the activity of a protein called S100A8. what causes inflammation.
The researchers discovered this by creating a group of laboratory mice born without RNF5. As a result, these mice showed minimal initial signs of intestinal inflammation.
Then, the mice were given a compound that can cause intestinal inflammation through their drinking water.
Healthy mice will normally only experience minor inflammation if they are given this agent, but these mice, without the protective RNF5 gene, developed more extreme inflammation and contracted one type of colitis. Almost half of these mice died within several weeks.
“This certain level of inflammation caught our attention.” When we gave the mice inflammatory agents in their drinking water, those lacking the RNF5 gene had a very severe inflammation, diarrhea, basically all the characteristics of IBD, “Ze said. ‘Ev Ronai, PhD, lead author of the study and professor at the Cancer Center Appointed by the National Cancer Institute of SBP, told Healthline.
“The fact that almost 50 percent of the mice died as a result of this very minor inflammatory agent indicated that this protein is very important in preventing IBD.”
Ronai said that mice without RNF5 had significant amounts of S100A8, a protein that leads to inflammation, in their intestinal cells. Basically, think of RNF5 as a guardian who monitors potentially harmful material that needs to be removed. Without this cell protector that guarded the door, these mice were prepared to cause a harmful and, ultimately, fatal inflammation.
The team also tested its theory on 19 people with ulcerative colitis. They found that these patients had higher levels of S100A8 in tissue samples if they had more severe symptoms.
Dr. Garrett Lawlor, an assistant professor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Vagelos of Columbia University and associate director of Columbia’s intestinal inflammation program in New York City, wrote in an email to Healthline that Research has potential relevance for people suffering from IBD.
“If this research translates into human biology, we could target and neutralize this protein as a form of therapy for IBD,” wrote Lawlor, who was not involved in this research.
“This is so important because up to 40 percent of patients do not respond to many of the therapies that we currently have available to treat IBD. The more options we have available for therapy, the better we can individualize to reach the correct goal for each patient’s illness. ”
IBD is all too common
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1.3 percent of all adults in the United States, or 3 million people, reported having been diagnosed with IBD in 2015. Only 16 years earlier, that figure was significantly lower, with 0.9. percent.
Dr. Jordan Axelrad, MPH, a gastroenterologist at New York University at Langone Health, told Healthline that the medical community has been particularly difficult to develop treatments for IBD, since it is not a “one-hit” condition.
“There is no single environmental trigger.” It is a complex disease that involves both the environmental triggers and the genetic susceptibility and immune response of a person, “said Axelrad.
“It is very difficult to analyze the specific causes of IBD and find ways to provide adequate maintenance of the disease.”
That said, he added that we are moving toward a better understanding of the condition, and that there is a “growing number of promising targets for new therapeutic approaches.” He said that this research, although still in its infancy, suggests a promising perspective. Future for the development of better therapeutic treatments for IBD.
But for people with IBD who are reading this now, the new research does not offer immediate help.
“At this time, this means little for patients with IBD, since it may still be several years before a promising target can go through laboratory and human tests. “This can be a useful therapy that is approved to be safe and effective, and is available in 5 to 10 years,” Lawlor added.
That said, Lawlor wrote that such research is “vital to achieving a broader understanding of the inflammatory processes that work together to cause IBD.
“It is also possible that with this greater understanding of the disease process, we can discover a cure along the way,” he added.
For his part, Ronai said there are several directions in which he and his team could move forward. He said one would understand what might be the best agent to fight the S100A8 protein that causes inflammation. Basically, they are trying to figure out which are the best points of the protein that they could attack.
He also added that this work may have ramifications beyond IBD.
A better understanding of the proteins that cause inflammation of IBD could have an effect related to a better understanding of ways to treat cancer.
“We are trying to understand the manifestation of our findings when it comes to cancer and the reason why current immunotherapies that are administered in abundance to cancer patients, when they are effective, are also causing inflammatory disorders.”