Research Discovers New Ulcerative Colitis Diagnostic Marker

Have you ever heard of a biomarker? In short, a biomarker, or biological marker, is some sort of objective measure which can tell you something about your health or health state. These biomarkers may indicate normal bodily processes, or could signify health issues or disease manifestations. According to Medical Xpress, researchers recently discovered a novel biomarker for ulcerative colitis (UC) which could aid in early detection. 

To read the full study findings, take a look at the data published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology

The Research

Currently, it can be difficult to diagnose or identify forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis. The diagnostic process often involves colonoscopies and ultrasounds, alongside additional tests. Researchers questioned whether the diagnostic process could be easier on patients and more effective.

To begin, researchers identified anti-endothelial protein C receptor (anti-ECPR) antibodies as being found at high levels in those with IBD. Normally, these antibodies help fight foreign invaders. However, these antibodies may also be found in autoimmune conditions like UC in which the body mistakenly attacks itself. Previously, these antibodies have also been linked to Takaysu’s arteritis. 

Next, researchers conducted a trans-ethnic analysis on Caucasian and Japanese individuals with ulcerative colitis. Their goal was to determine whether these anti-ECPR antibodies were present and, if so, whether these could be used for treatment or diagnosis. Researchers sourced blood samples from 203 patients and 100 healthy controls. After evaluating these samples, they found that 93% (189 patients) of those with UC were anti-ECPR antibody positive. 

While more research is needed, this discovery could assist with early UC detection and diagnosis. For example, if someone visits their physician expressing UC-related symptoms, evaluating the blood level of anti-ECPR antibodies could give insight into their condition. 

About Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease which exists under the greater umbrella of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Typically, ulcerative colitis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. It usually manifests either between ages 15 to 30, or after age 60. Having Ashkenazi Jewish heritage or a family history of UC also increases the risk. Ulcerative colitis is characterized by the formation of sores, ulcers, and inflammation within the large intestine. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea, which may have blood or pus
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Rectal pain and bleeding
  • Fecal urgency
  • Nausea
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Joint pain
  • Rash
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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