Genetics Research May Lead to Superior IBD Treatments

There may be several different disorders within Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

An analysis of genetic variations among patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may eventually lead to better treatments, a recent study indicates.

The study, published in The Lancet, noted that varying genetics among IBD patients influences how sick people become and may offer a pathway to more effective therapies.

Researchers conducted an international study of 35,000 patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the 2 most common forms of IBD. The researchers then compared clinical records of IBD patients with an analysis of their DNA, which offered greater insights into IBD progression and the rate of disease development.

The results of the study indicate that IBD could actually be an array of different bowel disorders.

"This new research strongly suggests that we are dealing a number of different diseases hidden within Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, constituting a large spectrum of inflammatory bowel disease," co-senior author Dermot McGovern, MD, PhD, MRCP (UK), said in a press release.

Additionally, genetic analysis may help identify which patients could benefit from early intervention with more aggressive therapy, the authors wrote.

"We have very effective therapies for IBD if we use them sooner in the disease, especially for those patients who are at risk for developing a serious form of illness," Dr. McGovern said. "We want to understand what the important, singular, genetic signature is for each individual patient because they may respond to available therapies very differently, even with the same IBD diagnosis."

Further analysis into the genetic variations within IBD may help to personalize future treatments to improve patient care.

"Genetic research of this magnitude of sample size provides critical information about IBD that takes us farther down the road to providing personalized diagnosis and care to our patients with complex disorders," Shlomo Melmed, MD, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and dean of the medical faculty said in a press release. "Individualizing treatment approaches will help ensure we are getting the most appropriate treatment to the right patient at the correct time."

Additionally, the genetic variations linked to IBD were also associated with other autoimmune diseases, including spondylitis and psoriasis.

"For many of our patients, these new genetic insights could be very beneficial," Dr. McGovern concluded. "But we also need to look more closely at some of the sickest IBD patients in hopes of providing more effective treatment and disease management."