A genetic abnormality originally discovered in plants, has been pin pointed in humans as being responsible for increasing the susceptibility to Crohn's disease and bowel inflammation. The chances of developing an inherited form of the diseases increases by atleast 25% when a person happens to have a mutation on chromosome 16.
The study was led by a group of researchers from France and USA. The complete data will appear in the May 31st issue of journal Nature.
The gene in question is called Nod2. If this gene is damaged, researchers say, the immune system over reacts and attacks healthy intestinal cells by mistake, causing chronic inflammation. Incidentally Nod2 as also been identified in plants. Like in the humans where this gene forms a part of the first line of defence, Nod2 also helps plants to resist bacterial infection.
Crohn's disease causes severe diarrhea, bleeding, fever and malnutrition. It is closely related to ulcerative colitis, so these two diseases are often grouped as inflammatory bowel disease. However there is no cure treatment is by means of diet restrictions and medication to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. In sever cases, damaged portions of the intestine are surgically removed.