(HealthDay News) — Viruses may play a role in inflammatory bowel diseases, including the two most common types, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, according to a new study published online Jan. 22 in Cell.
Previous research has linked these diseases with a lower variety of intestinal bacteria, according to the researchers. In this new study, people with inflammatory bowel disease had a greater variety of viruses in their digestive systems compared to healthy people, the investigators found.
The research indicates that viruses, as well as bacteria, are a factor in inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers said. The findings are the “tip of the iceberg,” senior author Herbert Virgin IV, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of pathology and head of the department of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university news release. Much more research is needed to learn more about these gut viruses — many of which are new — and how they interact with the gut and gut bacteria, Virgin added.
The researchers are developing a model of inflammatory bowel disease in laboratory animals to learn more about the role bacteria and viruses may play in the condition.