Discovery by Irish scientists raises hopes of a cure for bowel disease
A RESEARCH team at an Irish university has made a breakthrough discovery that could lead to the treatment of a disease that currently has no cure and affects millions of people all over the world.
The research team at NUI Maynooth, Co Kildare, has discovered the crucial role a protein called 'Pellino3' has in controlling unwanted inflammation in the intestine, and is therefore a step closer to protecting against the development of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease.
In people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the protein is broken down and rendered ineffective.
IBD is notoriously hard to diagnose and treat. However, the breakthrough findings could lead to a straightforward diagnosis of the disease in three to five years, and a possible treatment in a decade.
An estimated 15,000 people in Ireland suffer from IBD – a disorder that causes inflammation of the intestine, the symptoms of which are diarrhoea and abdominal pain. The two major types are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
The findings are the result of three years' work by the research team led by Professor Paul Moynagh, head of the Department of Biology and director of the Institute of Immunology at NUI Maynooth, with support from collaborators in Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.
Prof Moynagh said the research represents a major advancement in our understanding of inflammatory diseases of the digestive system.
"Findings like this don't happen every day," he said. "Our aim at NUI Maynooth is to progress this research even further and we look forward to further advancements in the area of immunology."
However, he stressed the findings are just a step in the right direction and it will be a significant challenge, taking major investment and time, to get to an IBD cure.
NUI Maynooth president Philip Nolan said the findings by Prof Moynagh and his team have the potential to impact positively on many lives.
"Research is about finding answers and solutions to major challenges and difficulties we face."
The findings have been accepted and published in the 'Nature Immunology' journal.