Professor David Fairlie
Professor David Fairlie

5 March 2012

A Queensland team has developed an experimental drug that could improve the treatment of the leading causes of colon cancer: inflammatory bowel diseases.

Dr Rink-­‐Jan Lohman and Professor David Fairlie of UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) led the team of researchers that successfully tested the new treatment in a model of ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine, including the colon. Along with Crohn’s Disease, colitis is one of the main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, which affects about 30 million people worldwide.

“We thought that certain enzymes involved in digesting food in the gut may, if uncontrolled, cause inflammatory bowel disease, so we developed a drug that blocks the effects of these enzymes on colon cells,” Dr Lohman said.

“Not only were we able to treat and prevent the symptoms of the condition, our drug was effective at 10% of the dose of current treatments and it can be given in tablet form rather than injected.”

The researchers believe the drug may show similar benefits in treating other chronic inflammatory diseases, including arthritis. It is also possible that the drug could be used to treat many other types of chronic inflammatory conditions and prevent a variety of cancers from developing.

To move a drug to human trials costs millions of dollars, so the IMB team must secure further funding before their research can advance.

“The process of taking a drug from a promising molecule to a product on the shelves takes years, but discoveries such as these should give sufferers hope that better treatments will hopefully one day be available,” Dr Lohman said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Media contacts: Rink-Jan Lohman - 07 3346 2988 or r.lohman@uq.edu.au

IMB Communications - 07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247

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