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Antibody to a naturally-occurring sugar chain in colon inhibits inflammatory bowel disease

(La Jolla, Calif.) A collaboration led by the Burnham Institute for Medical Research has found that an antibody which binds to an unusual sugar molecule residing in the gut halts the inflammation seen in Crohn's disease and other intestinal inflammations. The antibody could prove to be a promising drug target for these common chronic intestinal disorders.

Professor Hudson Freeze, Ph.D., director of Burnham's glycobiology and carbohydrate chemistry program, together with staff scientist Geetha Srikrishna, Ph.D., and other colleagues found that a naturally "tweaked" sugar chain normally present on white blood cells and intestinal cells plays a role in inflammation. In addition, the team found that an antibody produced in reaction to the sugar's presence curbed intestinal inflammation induced in mice. These findings will be published in the October 15th edition of Journal of Immunology.

"We looked at a number of sugar-binding molecules that may have had a role in inflammation," said Freeze. "One of the sugar chains elicited an antibody response, so we wondered whether the antibody would be able to block inflammation in mice. If so, this could have implications for inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's, and also might help combat other autoimmune inflammatory diseases, like arthritis."

The team identified a modified version of very common sugars known as N-linked glycans, which are found on the surface of white blood cells, as well as normal colon cells. These sugars are also found in colon tissue of patients suffering from Crohn's disease.

The antibody was tested in a mouse model for Crohn's disease created by transferring white blood cells with the capacity to induce severe intestinal inflammation into mice with compromised immune systems. "When administered 10 days after disease onset, the antibody was able to reverse early symptoms of inflammation and halt further progress of diseas
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Contact: Nancy Beddingfield
nbeddingfield@burnham.org
858-646-3146
Burnham Institute
7-Oct-2005


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