[Reprinted without permission from Insight, the University of Liverpool Spring 2008 alumni magazine–many thanks to cousin Natasha for taking the trouble to mail me the whole mag]
“Scientists have discovered how a bacterium, known to cause illness in cattle, may cause Crohn’s disease in humans.
Crohn’s, affecting one in 800 people in the UK, is a condition that causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhoea.
The team found that the bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which makes its way into the body’s system via cows’ milk and other dairy products, releases a molecule that prevents a type of white blood cell from killing E.coli bacteria found in the body. E.coli is known to be present within Crohn’s disease tissue in increased numbers.
Professor Jon Rhodes, from the School of Clinical Sciences, said: “Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been found within Crohn’s disease tissue but there has been much controversy concerning its role in the disease. We have now shown that these Mycobacteria release a complex molecule containing a sugar called mannose. This molecule prevents a type of white blood cell, called mycrophages, from killing internalised E.coli.”
The team is beginning clinical trials to assess whether an antibiotic combination can be used to target the bacteria contained in white blood cells as a possible treatment for Crohn’s disease.”
Interesting, since I’m also lactose intolerant. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find a treatment (if not a cure) in the next 10-20 years. That would, to use some highly medical terminology, rock.