Emory Report
September 8, 2008
Volume 61, Number 3



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8, 2008
Early-onset gene for bowel diseases found

By Quinn Eastman

A study of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in children has identified a gene that influences whether children get these diseases early in life, and points to a potential new target for treatment.

While several genes that influence susceptibility to the two diseases have been found previously, this study is the first to focus on inflammatory bowel diseases with childhood onset, says co-first author Subra Kugathasan, who was recently recruited to Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics from the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the intestines, resulting in pain, severe diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, weight loss and fever.

The study found two new genetic markers, and one sits next to a gene that regulates inflammatory responses, suggesting a target for future therapies.

The findings of the international team that performed the study are published in the September issue of the journal Nature Genetics. The study’s senior author is Hakon Hakonarson, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.