A type of ‘friendly bacteria’ has been the key for researchers at the University of Dundee who have just developed a treatment that offers the opportunity of new therapies for the management of one of the UKs most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease - ulcerative colitis. Results from a four-week patient trial led by Professor George Macfarlane showed that many of the patients’ symptoms were dramatically reduced to near normal levels.
Affecting an estimated fifty thousand people in the UK, with a particularly high incidence rate in north east Scotland, ulcerative colitis is an acute and chronic disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the large bowel.
After studying the bowel wall of colitis patients and healthy volunteers, the team made an important discovery. The levels of a specific type of friendly bacteria were 30 times less in colitis patients than in healthy people. As well as stimulating the immune system and offering anti-cancer properties, many of these organisms have anti-inflammatory effects, and after noting that the particular types of this bacteria were also different in colitis patients, the researchers set about developing substitute organisms that could help colitis patients.
Angela Durcan | alfa
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