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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 17, 2009

SickKids researchers play key role in largest gene study of childhood IBD

By Beata Rydyger

In an international collaborative study, researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Mount Sinai Hospital helped identify five new regions in the genome that raise the risk of children and adolescents developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Researchers call this a major step towards the development of advanced drug therapies.

The study, published in Nature Genetics November 15, is the largest paediatric study of its kind and the first genome-wide association study performed exclusively on early-onset IBD. One of the most significant findings in the new study is the close relationship between early- and adult-onset IBD.

“We found that the same genes that are known to make people susceptible to developing IBD later in life also lead to the early onset of IBD in children and adolescents,” says Dr. Anne Griffiths, co-principal author of the study, Head of the Division of Gastroenterology, Director of the IBD Program and Associate Scientist at SickKids Research Institute. “The genes we identified and confirmed in this study point the way to a better understanding of the causes of IBD and provide clues for further research in this area,” adds Dr. Griffiths, who is also a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.

IBD is a painful, chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the study, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common types of IBD and the most frequent causes of morbidity in children and young adults in the western world. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world with approximately 4,900 youths affected.

The Toronto research team worked with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and other international centres.

Funding was provided by CHOP, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program, the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, AstraZeneca and SickKids Foundation.