IBD is long-term condition that can affect quality of life to a great degree, so finding a cure is vital.
They believe that the cells, a type of effector CD4 T cell, could serve as targets for new treatments to relieve — or even cure — inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Their findings also raise the possibility that the cells could be behind other disorders in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue, such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
A study paper on their work has now been published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
“Our hope is,” says senior study author Laurie E. Harrington, who is an associate professor of cell, developmental, and integrative biology, “if we could treat these cells, it could be curative.”
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
IBD is a long-term condition in which the gastrointestinal tract, or the gut, becomes inflamed from constantly being attacked by the immune system.
There are two main types of IBD: Crohn’s disease, in which mainly the colon becomes inflamed; and ulcerative colitis, in which inflammation can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract between the mouth and the anus.