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IBD bacteria identified that could mean different treatments

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
E.coli bacteria in the intestines:Credit Wikimedia Commons

New research suggests there could be a role for antibiotics for treating Crohn's disease and colitis. Scientists at Yale University have discovered so called bad bacteria that can cause inflammation related to the intestinal disorders.


Scientists have identified a specific group of bacteria that causes inflammation and leads to inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease and colitis.

Antibiotics could help treat IBD

Yale researchers found a protein that coats 'bad' bacteria that causes inflammation.

They found there are only a small number of bacteria responsible for inflammatory intestinal diseases that could mean it's possible to treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis with antibiotics including probiotics or even vaccines.

IgA coating linked to bacterial Crohn's, colitis culprits

The researchers specifically looked at bacteria in the intestines that were heavily coated with a protein known as IgA - a compound that attaches to bacteria as part of the body's immune response.

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Richard Flavell, the Sterling Professor of Immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine explained in a press release that looking at bacteria coated with IgA tells researchers which bacteria are responsible for inflammation associated with the intestinal disorders.

“The coating is our body’s attempt to neutralize the bacteria,” Flavell said. “It binds to the bad bacteria. We only make these IgA responses to a limited number of organisms.”

To find the bacterial culprits the Yale team took bacteria from a small group of patients and then transplanted them into mice.

In healthy mice there was no effect but in mice with induced colitis the suspect 'bad bacteria' caused IBD symptoms and widespread inflammation.

Past studies have also linked bacteria to Crohn's disease but no one knows exactly what triggers the autoimmune response that leads to symptoms.

Recent findings have also uncovered how certain proteins in the gut act to trigger the immune response that is characteristic of Crohn's disease.

The study is published in the journal Cell.

Flavell says more studies are needed to understand if 'bad bacteria' is the same in all patients with IBD or if everyone is different. IgA antibody coatings found in the intestines in the study could mean there is a place for antibiotic therapy for treating Crohn's disease and colitis, the researcher said.