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Natural protein could help spare IBD patients from surgery

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Natural protein studied for helping reduce fibrosis from IBD

Patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease often develop scarring that leads to narrowing or stricture of the colon. Researchers recently studied a natural protein that might be developed to help limit the amount of intestinal scarring from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, helping spare patients from the need for surgery.


IBD can often lead to repeated surgeries. Quelling inflammation in the colon is a goal of treatment. Chronic inflammation, left unchecked from lack of response to medications can cause scarring in the colon that in turn can mean repeated surgeries. Even when part of the colon is removed, fibrosis that occur in another part of the colon. Now researchers have discovered a defense protein cathelicidin that quells inflammation and also has antimicrobial properties can prevent fibrosis, found in pre-clinical trials.

A new way to prevent Crohn's complication

Senior study author Hon Wai Koon, PhD, from the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles said in a January 15 press release "These findings may lead to novel therapeutic approaches that prevent recurrent strictures in Crohn's disease patients."

The protein has the ability to prevent collagen formation and also has anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers explain pre-clinical studies performed on cells and on mice show cathelicidin might help prevent surgery for Crohn's disease patients.

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Jerrold Turner, MD, PhD, AGAF, editor-in-chief of Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology said how the protein works isn't yet known and would require more study.

The study

The researchers found cathelicidin protein reduced the number of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α) released by the intestine in mice given a chemical agent that induced colitis without having an effect on transforming growth factor-α that is anti-inflammatory and pro-regenerative. The protein also limited microscopic changes in the colon associated with chronic colitis and fibrosis, in addition to reducing weight loss. Turner said the study is an advance that could help patients with Crohn's disease avoid surgery.

"Cathelicidins: A Novel Therapy for the Treatment of Intestinal Fibrosis?"
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