A single bacterial enzyme may be linked to Crohn’s disease, according to a study published late last year.
The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that it might be possible to treat Crohn’s by eliminating most of the bacteria in the gut microbiome and repopulating that region with good bacteria that lacks the urease enzyme.
“Because it’s a single enzyme that is involved in this process, it might be a targetable solution,” said senior author Gary D. Wu, MD, quoted in Specialty Pharmacy Times. “The idea would be that we could ‘engineer’ the composition of the microbiota in some way that lacks this particular one.”
Good bacteria vs. bad bacteria
In the study, researchers found that Proteobacteria – a “bad” bacteria – feeds on the waste product urea, which can end up in the colon and cause dysbiosis, an imbalance of the gut microbiome.
According to the study, the Proteobacteria convert urease enzyme into ammonia, which becomes the amino acids that trigger dysbiosis in Crohn’s patients.
Researchers postulate that good bacteria do not behave the same way, and could therefore offer a way to shift the gut microbiome to treat illnesses.
“The study is important is because it shows that the movement of nitrogen into bacteria is an important process in the development of dysbiosis,” Wu said. “It also proves using a single enzyme can reconfigure the entire composition of the gut microbiota.”
“An important first step”
Wu calls the revelation that this bacterial enzyme may be linked to Crohn’s disease “an important first step in building a technology platform to engineer a beneficial composition of the gut microbiota for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.”
He and his fellow researchers are conducting a clinical trial in Crohn’s patients based on this data. In the meantime, it might be helpful to review these tips of spotting some common triggers for this illness:
There’s a definite link between Crohn’s and stress, says Dr. R. Balfour Sartor of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
“Stress increases blood flow to the gut, which increases motility and stimulates contractions in the intestines,” he said. “That leads to diarrhea and nausea.”
If you’re feeling stressed, look for activities that can reduce stressful feelings: meditation, exercise, yoga or even counseling.
Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen and antibiotics can cause Crohn’s flares. Talk to your doctor about using pain relievers with acetaminophen, which will not act as triggers for Crohn’s disease
Avoid foods that cause gas and/or diarrhea – cabbage, beans, carbonated beverages, greasy/fried foods, along with raw vegetables, peanuts, popcorn, watermelon seeds and harder, chunky foods, especially if you have a narrowing of the intestines.
A cigarette habit can increase the risk for more frequent Crohn’s surgeries, while also acting as one of the common triggers for Crohn’s disease.
There is some evidence that infections can cause Crohn’s in people who have never before shown any symptoms. Sartor gives the example of people who contract an E. coli infection while on vacation. Although most travelers recover with ease, people susceptible to Crohn’s may develop the illness because they lack the ability to stop the inflammation.
The news that a bacterial enzyme may be linked to Crohn’s disease offers hope for people living with this illness. In the meantime, Proper Nutrition can help Crohn’s patients alleviate their symptoms.
Our dietary supplements use all-natural white fish protein, and have been shown to reduce symptoms in people with gut-related illnesses. Visit our website to find a product that’s right for you.