New fast and simple test for colitis screening

May 18, 2016

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, also known as the colon, which causes the lining of the colon to become inflamed and develop tiny open sores, or ulcers, that produce pus and mucous. The combination of inflammation and ulceration can cause abdominal discomfort and frequent emptying of the colon.

Ulcerative colitis is the result of an abnormal response by the body's immune system. Normally, the cells and proteins that make up the immune system protect from infection. In people with inflammatory bowel diseases, however, the immune system mistakes food, bacteria, and other materials in the intestine for foreign or invading substances. When this happens, the body sends white blood cells into the lining of the intestines, where they produce chronic inflammation and ulcerations.

Assessing this inflammation remains a challenge, and clinical diagnosis is now achieved by colonoscopy, which uses an endoscope or flexible tube with a light and camera attached to examine the digestive tract. This technique is not ideal for an annual checkup or monitoring disease activity regularly because it's expensive, invasive and requires sedation.

Researchers from the Georgia State University have developed a new screening technique for ulcerative colitis, published in the Journal of Biophotonics.

Unil Perera, a Regents' Professor of Physics and researcher in the Center for Nano-Optics at Georgia State said: "This rapid, simple, cost-effective and minimally invasive technique could be further developed into a personalised diagnostic tool that would assess disease status based on an individual's molecular composition and allow for personalized diagnosis and drug management. Perhaps this technology could be integrated into a portable device, such as the glucometer used by patients with diabetes."

"There is a need for a simple, inexpensive and low-risk diagnostic tool for inflammatory bowel diseases," said Didier Merlin, professor in the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State and a researcher at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "Infrared spectroscopy has greatly enhanced clinical medicine in the last two decades and shows promise as a solution."

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