Some 170 genes are involved the two illnesses, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, according to the new findings.
One early application of the findings may be to help doctors distinguish between the two kinds of IBD - since their genetic profiles were significantly different.
The findings come from a study of colon tissue from 6 people with Crohn's disease and 12 with ulcerative colitis. These were compared with 12 healthy controls. More than 7,000 genes were screened.
|Of more than 7,000 genes screened:|
- 33 were common to both conditions
- 108 were unique to ulcerative colitis
- 29 were unique to Crohn's
|Human Molecular Genetics|
The researchers at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, found 33 affected genes that were common to both conditions, 108 that were unique to ulcerative colitis, and 29 that were unique to Crohn's disease.
Researcher Dr Shukti Chakravarti, now of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, said, "Before this study, only a few genes involved in these diseases were known, but that list has been significantly expanded.
"Some of the identified genes may be involved in primary events directly causing disease, whereas others are likely important in determining the course of disease. For instance, some of these genes play a role in the wounding and healing process, secondary events that lead to tissue damage and fibrosis."
He added, "Our next step is to follow patients over the course of the diseases and use genetic profiling to track disease progression, identify early and late changes, and ultimately help to develop better predictors of severity as well as target therapies for each IBD type."
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