Research led by Fang Yang at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center has uncovered some interesting information which could lead to new treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

The researchers focused in on proteins that are secreted by the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacteria. This bacteria is commonly found in yogurts. The proteins they isolated were given generic names such as p75 & p40. Researchers narrowed their focus to protein ‘p40’. P40 was found to activate the epidermal growth factor receptor which is responsible for sustaining living cells & growing new ones. Activation of this receptor appears to have helped prevent both cell death & inflammation caused by weakening of the intestinal tracts “tight junctions” which prevent microbes & toxins escaping into the bloodstream.

One of the main benefits of the research is that the researchers were able to isolate P40 by itself, meaning that future treatments could deliver the helpful protein directly, without having to rely on yogurt or the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacteria surviving a trip through bacteria destroying stomach. This research might also lead to further studies of how probiotics works, perhaps uncovering more proteins or substances secreted by these bacteria which may be helpful for treating various digestion disorders.

Vanderbuilt University News Release