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Newly Discovered 'Backup' Immune System Could Help Doctors Improve Crohn's Treatment

Newly Discovered 'Backup' Immune System Could Help Doctors Improve Crohn's Treatment

Newly Discovered 'Backup' Immune System Could Help Doctors Improve Crohn's Treatment

When attacked with a toxic pathogen, Crohn’s disease patients see a failure in the main immune response system, as well as a newly discovered “backup” system in the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. That’s the latest finding from the Immunology team at University of Texas Southwestern.

Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, limits or reduces the body’s waste cleanup system known as autophagy. The research is the first known discovery of an additional avenue that is failing—and could be targeted for treatment—in people with Crohn’s disease.

“This is the first example of this alternative pathway being used in immune defense in any kind of animal,” said Dr. Lora Hooper, Chair of Immunology at UT Southwestern and leader of the lab that did the research.