Raz agreed with his colleague, noting that we pay for being sterile. Bacterial DNA in your gut is good for you.
Affecting an estimated 1 million Americans, IBD includes two closely related disorders that involve inflammation in the intestines Crohns Disease and ulcerative colitis. In Crohns disease there is inflammation deep within the intestinal wall. Ulcerative colitis affects the tissue lining the colon. The symptoms in both diseases are abdominal pain, diarrhea and rectal bleeding.
The two disorders are considerably more serious than irritable bowel syndrome, a common intestinal condition that also causes abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Severe cases of IBD frequently lead to patient surgery involving removal of a portion of the small intestine or all of the colon. While the cause of IBD is unknown, physicians and researchers believe the disorder is multifactorial, involving susceptibility genes and environmental factors, such as invading viruses or bacteria.
The compound used by the research team to treat the experimental colitis in mice was developed a few years ago by Raz and his UCSD team. It is a synthetic form of bacterial DNA called immunostimulatory (ISS) oligonucleotide (ODN), which is a short segment of bacterial DNA which has immunostimulatory properties.
Rachmilewitz noted that when we test the efficacy of this treatment in human clinical trials, we hope to show that IBD patients can take an oral form of this compound once a week to prevent the flare-up periods typical of the disease.
In the study reported in Gastroenterology, the researchers gave the ISS-ODN to mice that had developed experimental colitis, the mouse model of human IBD. Whether administered systemically or orally, the ISS-ODN ameliorated the colitis.
Contact: Sue Pondrom
University of California - San Diego