2015-08-26 12:37:57 UTC

Epigenetics Research: the Key to Unlocking Personalized IBD Treatments

Research made possible by a grant from AGA, CCFA and Janssen.

CONTACT: Rachel Steigerwald
301-272-1603
media@gastro.org

Erin Stoeber
646-943-7458
estoeber@ccfa.org

Bethesda, MD (Aug. 26, 2015) —  The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), in partnership with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and Janssen Biotech, Inc. (Janssen), announced today that Theresa Alenghat, VMD, PhD, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, OH, was awarded with the 2015 AGA-CCFA-Janssen Research Award in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Epigenetics Research. 

Dr. Alenghat, the inaugural recipient of this award, will receive $100,000 per year for three years to study the role of epigenetics in the development of IBD. Epigenetics — referring to modifications of DNA and DNA-associated proteins due to any number of patient and environmental factors — is an active area of research in IBD and a wide range of other diseases. The promise of epigenetics comes from the knowledge that epigenomic changes regulate gene expression in response to environmental triggers without altering the genetic sequence. Therefore, epigenetics represent an important, potentially reversible, target for IBD treatments.

“With this grant, I will have the resources to conduct both basic and translational research initiatives to test how bacteria trigger changes in the epigenome during the development of IBD,” said Dr. Alenghat, who serves as assistant professor in the division of immunobiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. “These novel insights may guide the development of more effective and tailored therapeutic approaches for managing IBD.”

Specifically, Dr. Alenghat will be testing the hypothesis that dysregulation of epigenomic modifications, in combination with alterations in the microbiota, drive the development and progression of IBD.

More than 1.6 million Americans live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two diseases that fall under the IBD umbrella. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract (mouth to anus), while ulcerative colitis only occurs in the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, fatigue and weight loss. Many patients require hospitalization and surgery. These illnesses can cause severe complications, including colon cancer in patients with long-term disease. Learn more in the AGA patient brochure.

AGA, CCFA and Janssen announced this award opportunity in February 2015.

About the American Gastroenterological Association

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.

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About the AGA Research Foundation

The AGA Research Foundation, formerly known as the Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition, is the cornerstone of AGA’s effort to expand digestive disease research funding. Since 1984, the AGA, through its foundations, has provided more than $45 million in research grants to more than 830 scientists. The AGA Research Foundation serves as a bridge to the future of research in gastroenterology and hepatology by providing critical funding to advance the careers of young researchers between the end of training and the establishment of credentials that earn National Institutes of Health grants. Learn more about the AGA Research Foundation or make a contribution at www.gastro.org/about/aga-research-foundation.

About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America

The Crohn's& Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). CCFA’s mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, like us on Facebook, find us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter and Pinterest.

About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies

At Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people with serious diseases throughout the world. Beyond its innovative medicines, Janssen is at the forefront of developing education and public policy initiatives to ensure patients and their families, caregivers, advocates and healthcare professionals have access to the latest treatment information, support services and quality care. Please visit www.janssen.com for more information.

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