Sifting through signs of inflammation to analyze causes of Crohn's disease

When studying Crohn's disease, an inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, a challenge is separating out potential causes from the flood of systemic inflammation inherent in the condition. Researchers led by Subra Kugathasan, MD recently published an analysis that digs under signs of inflammation, in an effort to assess possible causes.

Graduate student Hari Somineni, in Kugathasan's lab, teamed up with Emory and Georgia Tech geneticists for a sophisticated approach that may have found some gold nuggets in the inflammatory gravel. The results were published in the journal Gastroenterology.

The group looked at DNA methylation in blood samples from pediatric patients with Crohn's disease, both at diagnosis and after treatment and follow-up. The information came from blood samples from 164 children with Crohn's disease and 74 controls, as part of the RISK study, which is supported by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and Kugathasan leads.

Kugathasan is Marcus professor of pediatrics and human genetics at Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and director of the Children's Center for Transplantation and Immune-mediated Disorders. He is also a PBEE faculty member. Somineni is in the Genetics and Molecular Biology graduate program, with a PhD degree expected in May 2019.

Co-authors include Suresh Venkateswaran PhD, Alicia Smith PhD, Karen Conneely PhD, and David Cutler PhD at Emory; and at Georgia Tech, Greg Gibson PhD. Dr. Smith is a GMB faculty member and Dr. Conneely is a faculty member in the GMB and PBEE programs.

Click here to view the full story in Lab Land - The Emory Health Sciences Research Blog. The story was also featured in Medical Xpress.