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Scientists Find New Protein Key to Bowel Disease

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010.

Boosting a specific protein might restore the body's natural defenses to gut infections and offer a new way to treat Crohn's disease, European scientists said on Monday.

Dr. Laurent Peyrin-Birouleta, from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicalein in Lille, France and colleagues found that mice that are deficient in PPAR-gamma, which regulates immune defenses in the gut, are less able to fight off bacterial infection in the colon compared to normal mice.

The European team, whose work was published online before print April 26th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that colon tissue from Crohn's disease patients also show reduced levels of the antimicrobial peptides regulated by PPAR-gamma.

Senior author Dr. Mathias Chamaillard from Institut Pasteur de Lille told Reuters Health that this finding suggests drugs already used for other diseases could prove effective in Crohn's disease.

For example, the diabetes drug Avandia, known generically as rosiglitazone, has been shown to restore gut defenses through PPAR-gamma activation, he said, and Actos, or pioglitazone, another PPAR drug used in diabetes, acts in the same way.

Still, although the study involved human tissue samples, many findings in mice do not pan out in humans.

Dr. Chamaillard said foods or diets containing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) can also boost PPAR-gamma activity and have been shown to improve colitis and colitis-associated cancer. CLA is primarily found in milk and meat products.

"In the short-term, managing the disease is what we are looking at, but it may also be that in the future we could develop a way of stopping it," Dr. Chamaillard said.

But he added that curing Crohn's disease would mean being able to identify those at highest risk before they contracted it and then being able to boost PPAR gamma-related defenses to ward it off.
Anyone find it funny that CLA is found in milk and meat - two things that many Crohn's sufferers say negatively affect them, and so avoid them? :tongue: