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IBD: proteases offer new targets for drug discovery

Ziel

The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) which comprise Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic relapsing and remitting inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. The frequency of these conditions has increased in recent decades, particularly in countries making the transition from developing to developed nation status. In western Europe, IBD now affects between 1/1000 and 5/1000 of the population, and the prevalence of the conditions in new EU accession countries appears to be growing as they develop. Few conditions in all of clinical medicine are linked with as much morbidity and potential mortality as IBD. Current treatment is based upon steroid therapy or neutralizing the effect of pro-inflammatory cytokines, especially TNFalpha. Despite their efficacy, many patients eventually require surgery for refractory disease or complications (stricture, perforation, abscess). In response to the call we have assembled a multidisciplinary team of international experts to delineate the role of intestinal proteases and their inhibitors in the pathophysiology of IBD. A particularly innovative aspect of our approach is the examination of both bacterial and host derived proteases and interactions between the two. The ultimate aim is develop novel therapeutics and increased understanding of the disease both of which will impact within the wider EU community and globally.

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