The goal has always been to better manage and get a diagnosis earlier for inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The newest study at the University of Manchester has given the medical community a new string of hope for understanding and treating these complicated illnesses. Dr. Sheen Cruickshank Senior Lecturer, Division of Infection, Immunity & Respiratory Medicine at the school, was the lead researcher on the team.
What made this study so innovative? Their methodology.
They decided to analyze bacteria gathered from the mucous lining as opposed to from stool samples. Bacteria from each location has very different profiles and researchers at Manchester thought bacteria from the lining may be able to provide them a more comprehensive view of what was going on. Their reasoning: bacteria from the lining is physically closer to the start of the problems.
By using this new insight and form of data, the university was able to see differences in the microbiota (or the ecosystem of microorganisms) a full twelve weeks earlier than they were through stool samples.
Let’s hear that again: 12. Weeks. Earlier.
The earlier these changes are observed, the earlier the chance of diagnosis. But even more noteworthy, these observations could be the next step in improving treatment options. You see, what is so outstanding about this disease is that we’re still not sure whether the inflammation that occurs as a symptom is caused by bacterial changes, or if the bacterial changes themselves cause the inflammation. Manchester’s new study could help show researchers what is causing these changes in the first place and as a result, disturbing the complex balance of the gut.
Dr. Cruickshank says that the key to helping patients is “being able to observe what is upsetting this balance earlier and understanding the bacteria involved.” The goal is and has always been, better quality of life for those living every day with inflammatory bowel diseases.
Read more details about this study on Science Daily.