Protein Alteration Reduces Progression of IBD and Colon Cancer in Mice

Uncontrolled inflammation in the gut, associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is additionally implicated in the development of colon cancer, due to its effect on gut bacteria which can invade mucosal tissue whose protective cellular barrier has been damaged. But findings from new research conducted at Virginia Tech suggest that modifications to a protein that controls inflammation may reduce the progression of both IBD and colon cancer. The modified protein, IRAK-M, “supercharges” the immune system, removing bacteria before they can damage tissue, according to the findings, which are published in eBioMedicine.

The study was conducted using mouse models, and the researchers found that mice with altered IRAK-M protein exhibited reduced inflammation and fewer incidences of cancer. Future research will seek to confirm the discovery using so-called “mini-guts” or complex assemblies of small intestine and colon tissue created from stem cells, and eventually, in human patient studies. Coy Allen, MBA, PhD, assistant professor of inflammatory disease in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, commented, “Ultimately, if we can design therapeutics to target IRAK-M, we think it could be a viable strategy for preventing inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.”

Read more about the discovery and implications here.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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