Indian-American scientist finds easy way to predict IBD

At left, Chandra Mohan, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professor of biomedical engineering, with graduate student Sanam Soomro (Courtesy: University of Houston)

An Indian-American professor and his colleague have received a $347,490 grant from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America for identifying at least 50 protein biomarkers that can non-invasively detect inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Chander Mohan, of the University of Houston, along with Subra Kugathasan, a gastroenterologist at Emory University, conducted research that showed stool samples could be used to detect proteins as markers of IBD, a press release from the University of Houston said.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a gut disorder that leads to diarrhea, abdominal cramps and weight loss, and it occurs when the body’s immune system fights its intestinal cells.

The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which can cause inflammation in the digestive tract.

For the research, Mohan asked patients to lend him a sample of their stool that “might harbor specific molecules that we could potentially track and to our pleasant surprise, an initial screen of patient stools revealed multiple proteins that are significantly elevated only in diseased patients,” Mohan is quoted saying in the press release.

Mohan and his group of researchers found that out of 1,100 different levels of proteins there are 50 in the stools that have IBD, thus with the right biomarkers, Mohan was able to predict the diseases before they were even diagnosed.

If the disease is flaring up, the biomarker in the stool will increase and the way to find that out is a self-care or easy-care kit which Mohan hopes to develop one day so the patient can get treated quicker.

To date, only one stool protein has been used to predict IBD for the last two decades, but now with this new discovery, the hope is that the biomarker will tell the difference, the University said.