Latest study finds a new player in inflammatory bowel disease.

A team of researchers at the ONJCRI has discovered a new master controller essential for a healthy gut and the prevention of diseases associated with inflammation of this organ critical for life.

Inflammatory bowel disease which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is a painful and debilitating condition. Australia has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world affecting 100,000 Australians. Symptoms can include excruciating abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and weight loss. These can be severe enough requiring hospitalisation for treatment. Currently therapies only treat the symptoms and the disease remains incurable.

In a study just published in Communications Biology, Associate Professors Erinna Lee and Doug Fairlie from the ONJCRI and La Trobe University, identify a new molecule needed for a normal functioning gut. The absence of this molecule leads to the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease. Critically, this molecule is also a known tumour suppressor.

“As people with inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk of developing bowel cancer, we are excited that we now have a basis to understand the causative links between these two devastating diseases,” Associate Professor Doug Fairlie said.

This multi-institutional study, with co-first authors and PhD students, Sharon Tran and Juliani, was supported by collaborators from the Francis Crick Institute, University College London, Austin Health, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Melbourne, and The Garvan Institute.