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Researchers from the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research uncover potential new therapy for ulcerative colitis

Lankenau Medical Center October 11, 2018 Research News

Researchers at Main Line Health’s Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) have isolated an antibody that may offer a new strategy to treat ulcerative colitis (UC). LIMR researchers and their colleagues determined in preclinical studies that injection of an antibody against Bin1, a protein that promotes inflammation by loosening tissue integrity, can trigger an immunotherapeutic benefit to prevent and treat UC.

UC affects more than 900,000 Americans, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The disease can cause abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue and frequent diarrhea, among other symptoms. Additionally, patients with UC are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, due in part to disease-causing inflammation of colon tissues. Patients with UC are currently prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and immune suppressors which have unpleasant side effects, such as opportunistic infections and lack of efficacy in certain individuals, that limit treatment quality.

“We found that administration of a Bin1 monoclonal antibody improved the colon’s cellular barrier function and protected the integrity of the lymphoid follicles in the colon,” noted Sunil Thomas, PhD, research assistant professor at LIMR and lead author of the study. “The antibody appeared to lower the expression of several cytokines, inflammatory agents in the cells, and thus protected the animals in our study from developing UC.”

The study advanced earlier genetics research at LIMR revealing that shutting off the Bin1 gene in mice reduced UC severity and did so by boosting the barrier function of the epithelium, the lining of the colon. Based on the results of that study, the researchers then developed a Bin1 monoclonal antibody treatment for preclinical administration.

“We found that the Bin1 antibody affected the expression of various claudin proteins in the tight junction complexes, and thereby the barrier function of the epithelium,” said LIMR Professor James Mullin, PhD, one of the study’s authors. “Enhancing the tight junctional complexes may prove to be protective regarding the development of UC.”

The authors concluded that the study offers both a potential new immunotherapy for UC and shows that multiple factors may be involved in UC development. Their study, “Intestinal barrier tightening by a cell-penetrating antibody to Bin1, a candidate target for immunotherapy of ulcerative colitis,” was published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.

The research was funded by the Janssen Research Foundation, the Wawa Foundation, and the Women’s Board of Lankenau Medical Center.

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health's commitment—to deliver advanced medicine for treating and curing disease, playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to be the region's premier choice for clinical care, research, and education. A team of more than 10,000 employees, 3,000 nurses and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health System.

At Main Line Health's core are four of the region's most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation's premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

Main Line Health also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton, King of Prussia and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region's largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care, and service, including U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, System Magnet® designation; the nation's highest distinction for nursing excellence and the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect, equity, and inclusion, has proudly received awards in this area and has embraced the American Hospital Association's #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education, and research to help patients stay healthy and live their best lives.

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About Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center and is part of Main Line Health. Founded in 1927, LIMR’s mission is to improve human health and well-being. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to formidable medical challenges, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. LIMR’s principal investigators conduct basic, preclinical and translational research, using their findings to explore ways to improve disease detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They are committed to extending the boundaries of human health through technology transfer and training of the next generation of scientists and physicians.