Seed Grant in Pathogenic and Commensal Organisms
PIs are Jonathan Hansen and Todd Vision, UNC-Chapel Hill. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are chronic and often progressive disorders that afflict about 5 in 1000 people and for which there is no medical cure. Normal intestinal bacteria are thought to play a role in the development and progression of IBDs, but how this occurs is poorly understood. We believe that the environment of the inflamed intestine causes the bacteria to change/evolve to a more “aggressive” state that contributes to worsening disease and treatment failure. To test this, we will compare genetic mutations and IBD-causing-capacity of intestinal bacteria from mouse models of IBD with those of bacteria from healthy mice. We will also determine how long the IBD-associated changes in bacteria persist when the bacteria are transferred to a healthy intestine. These studies will help us understand how normal intestinal bacteria contribute to the chronic, progressive nature of IBDs and may identify new pathways that could be targeted for therapeutic purposes.