Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts up to 1 million Americans, with approximately 30,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
According to the study’s lead author, Brigham Women’s Hospital’s Derek W. Abbott, “The discovery of this faulty signaling process is a first step in helping us understand and ultimately address the underlying mechanism that causes Crohn’s disease to develop. We hope that this first step will ultimately lead to the development of novel strategies to treat or prevent the disease from occurring.”
While working with the Crohn’s disease gene NOD2, researchers discovered that the mutant forms of NOD2 fail to trigger a key signaling process. The activation of NOD2 impacts the regulation of the body’s inflammatory responses. It is thought that Crohn’s disease flare-ups are caused by the interruption of these inflammatory responses. Understanding how the disease develops will ultimately help researchers identify treatments for this frequently debilitating disease.
According to senior author Lewis C. Cantley of BIDMC, “Understanding the mechanisms underlying Crohn’s disease could ultimately lead to new drug therapies. Our next steps are to further elucidate this signaling pathway to determine optimal targets for therapeutic intervention.”