New ways to diagnose Crohn's, colitis less invasive
Researchers from Oxford University are very close to developing a blood test that could diagnose Crohn's disease. The finding has the potential to bring new and better treated for the inflammatory bowel disease that uses a biomarker to identify who has the disease.
How the Crohn's blood test works
Scientists at Oxford University are working on the blood test that detects levels of a compound known as miR-29 that is deficient with Crohn's disease. The compound is also one of the biomarkers that can predict who will develop fibrosis that might require surgery.
The goal is to replace miR-29 in a pill form to treat Crohn's disease, based on the results of blood testing.
MiR-29 (mircoRNA-29) is a member of the gene family that regulates how genes are express (epigenetics). But it also regulates the immune system. Lower levels or "down-regulation" of the member of the RNA family has been identified as a contributor to strictures or narrowing of the intestines that develop with Crohn's disease that lead to bowel resection surgery.
Researchers have also discovered feces has a distinctive metabalone that could allow diagnosis of Crohn's disease, colitis and other gastrointestinal disorders with the same accuracy as colonoscopy but less invasively and at lower cost using a technique known as gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS).
Finding new ways to diagnose Crohn's disease and colitis would mean earlier treatment and better outcomes and could lead to new treatments.
European Crohn's and Colitis Foundation
"P057. Micro-RNA expression profiling identifies miR-29b as a relevant pro-fibrogenic factor in Crohn's disease intestinal strictures"
"In Crohn's disease fibrosis reduced expression of the miR-29 family enhances collagen expression in intestinal fibroblasts."
Clinical Sciences, London
March 18, 2014