HealthDay News — Crohn’s disease appears to have at least two distinct genetic subtypes, which could explain why the condition is so hard to treat, according to research published online October 14 in Gut.

Shehzad Sheikh, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the departments of medicine and genetics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed colon tissue samples from 21 Crohn’s patients. 

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The team discovered at least two separate genetic subtypes of the disease. Each had its own pattern of gene expression and mix of clinical characteristics. These differences existed independently of patients’ ages or treatment histories.

The researchers said they believe the finding could lead to more effective treatments for Crohn’s. “We hope one day to be able to test Crohn’s patients for the subtype of the disease they have, and thus determine which treatment should work best,” Sheikh said in a university news release.

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