University of Houston, researcher Chandra Mohan, intends to force a breakthrough in the prediction and monitoring of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). With $ 347,490 from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, he and IBD expert Subra Kugathasan, a gastroenterologist at Emory University, research fecal protein biomarkers that indicate the disease.
An autoimmune disease, IBD occurs when the body's immune system fights the intestinal cells. Two of the most common types are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Mohan is one of the world's leading experts in autoimmune diseases, especially lupus.
"With the right biomarkers, we would be able to predict disease even before a diagnosis is made using conventional approaches," said Mohan, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Professor of Biomedical Engineering.
It comes on for a long time. For two decades, only one fecal protein, faecal calprotectin, has been used to predict IBD, but it is sub-optimal, according to Mohan, because its specificity and sensitivity are not perfect in predicting the diseases. Up to now no one has been searching for other fecal proteins in an extensive way.
By researching the levels of 1100 different proteins in IBD stool samples delivered by kugathasan, Mohan and PhD student Sanam Soomro have been reduced to 50, the number of proteins that is consistently increased in IBD bowel movements. That means they have found new and simple ways to predict who has IBD.
It is important because Mohan's team studies many body fluids of various autoimmune diseases and it seems to work better than others. "This is really good because we see really high levels, and they are crystal clear compared to healthy control stools – so we know something is going on," Mohan said.
As an extra bonus, better disease diagnosis, monitoring and therapy for IBD can significantly improve patients' lives. Diagnosing or monitoring the disease of a fecal test is simpler and less invasive and inexpensive compared to endoscopy or colonoscopy.
For example, a patient who has already been diagnosed with IBD can find out early whether the disease is flaring or whether the symptoms are only transient, indicating a temporary disturbance. The hope is that the biomarker will notice the difference. If the disease flares up, the biomarker in the stool will increase, which means that the patient can be treated more quickly.
One day Mohan provides a self-care or easy care package where patients can immediately understand what is happening inside, as well as the saliva test and the home test kit for lupus that his team is making.
"If we have the right biomarkers, this can mean a major breakthrough," says Mohan.
Provided by University of Houston
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