Researchers from Amsterdam UMC and Oxford have discovered that certain molecules (methyl groups) on Crohn´s disease (CD) patients’ DNA (so-called methylation marks*) can predict with a high level of confidence whether a patient will respond to a particular biologic treatment. This is of great importance because the vast majority (more than 60%) of patients with Crohn’s disease do not respond properly to these modern treatments. At present, it is impossible to predict in advance which treatment will be most effective. This leads to long periods of insufficient disease control which can result in disease flares and, more importantly, complications which often need to be treated surgically. All this increases the disease burden for the patients as well as the social costs (loss of productivity). For long, there has been an unmet need for more personalized treatment decisions for each individual patient.
*What are DNA methylation marks?
Epigenetics are changes to your DNA which do not alter the sequence of your DNA, but only change how certain proteins read your DNA sequence. This enables to turn certain genes “on” or “off”. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanisms where a chemical group (a methyl group) is added to the DNA. Usually, this methyl group is placed at specific places on the DNA where it can block proteins to attach to the DNA and “read” the gene. In general this means that DNA methylation turns genes “off”.