Fabio Cominelli, MD, PhD, has received a $9.7 million five-year renewal grant from the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue studying the cause of Crohn’s disease. Dr. Cominelli is the director of the Digestive Health Research Institute at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Here's what you need to know:
1. The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown, but recent research — including research by Dr. Cominelli — suggests the disease may be caused by an individual's poorly regulated innate immune response against unknown antigens.
2. When studying mice, they found that some mice have an innate immunity defect that predisposes them to develop Crohn's disease. The researchers hope to replicate these findings in humans.
3. In the past, the researchers have studied ileitis, an inflammation of the lower part of the small intestine. They hope that understanding how the body guards itself against ileitis will help them learn about other inflammatory diseases, like Crohn's disease.
4. The researchers are looking at the NOD2 gene, which facilitates aspects of the body's immune response and protects the body against ileitis.
5. The researchers hope their investigation into the NOD2 gene will help to develop a cure that boosts patients' immune responses against Crohn's disease.