22 Feb 2011

Study aims to find triggers of bowel disease

7:00 am on 22 February 2011

New Zealanders who have close relatives with Crohn's disease may soon be invited to join an unusual international study.

Canada and New Zealand share the world's highest rates of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and a Canadian group is determined to discover the triggers.

Crohn's and ulcerative colitis are forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic and debilitating disease with no known cause or cure - although genes, environment and microbes play a role.

About 200,000 Canadians and 15,000 New Zealanders have IBD.

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada is beginning a $7 million study of up to 5000 thousand healthy siblings or children of those with Crohn's to help discover the triggers.

The chief executive of the foundation, Kevin Glasgow, says that during discussions in Wellington on Monday he raised the possibility of New Zealanders joining the landmark study.