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New Clues to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Two proteins fight ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease

WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors believe they've discovered a potential new treatment for painful inflammatory bowel disease, which is caused by inflammation of the intestines.

Two proteins, called type 1 interferon IFN-alpha and IFN-beta, have been shown to ease symptoms in mice with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease affecting nearly 1 million Americans.

Researchers discovered that these proteins inhibit the severity of colitis and keep the gut functioning normally by suppressing immune system cells called macrophages that prompt inflammation.

"Our study describes how activated IFN-alpha/beta plays a protective role in colonic inflammation," study author Dr. Eyal Raz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said in a prepared statement.

The research is published in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

The National Institutes of Health has more about Crohn's disease.

SOURCES: University of California, San Diego, news release, March 1, 2005
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