UK Research Hinges on Gene Called ETS2

(NICENEWS.COM) — In a study published June 5, U.K. researchers revealed they found a major cause of inflammatory bowel disease, the umbrella term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These autoimmune conditions are increasing in prevalence — they were estimated to affect 6.8 million people worldwide in 2017, up from 3.7 million in 1990 — making new discoveries about their origins all the more important.

Per a press release from the Francis Crick Institute in London, the research hinges on a gene called ETS2. The team found an “enhancer” section of the DNA that boosts ETS2, higher levels of which were correlated to a higher risk of IBD. Other genes that have previously been associated with the disease are also part of the ETS2 pathway, thus confirming the study results.

“What we have found is one of the very central pathways that goes wrong when people get inflammatory bowel disease and this has been something of a holy grail,” lead researcher James Lee told The Guardian. Crucially, he said the “exciting” finding could open the door for new therapies: “It tells us this is something we can treat.” Read about some of the potential treatments the scientists are exploring.