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Viruses Implicated in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

More research is needed to define what role they play, researcher says

MONDAY, Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Viruses may play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases, including the two most common types, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to a new study published online Jan. 22 in Cell.

Previous research has linked these diseases with a lower variety of intestinal bacteria, according to the researchers. In this new study, people with inflammatory bowel disease had a greater variety of viruses in their digestive systems compared to healthy people, the investigators found.

The research indicates that viruses, as well as bacteria, are a factor in inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers said. The findings are the “tip of the iceberg,” senior author Herbert Virgin IV, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pathology and head of the department of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university news release. Much more research is needed to learn more about these gut viruses — many of which are new — and how they interact with the gut and gut bacteria, Virgin added.

The researchers are developing a model of inflammatory bowel disease in laboratory animals to learn more about the role bacteria and viruses may play in the condition.

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