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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 1 May 2006 Referencing Hub media

    Inflammatory bowel disease is when parts of a person's digestive system become swollen and painful. The disease seems to run in families, suggesting that there might be a genetic predisposition in some people. It also seems to be affected by what the patients eat.

    Selecting a single disease to study initially will enable to the researchers to become experts at this kind of research, so that they can then apply what they have learnt to other diseases, like diabetes.


    Professor Lynn (Ferguson Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland)

    I wish we knew how to cure cancer, but if you try and look at cancer there are about 300 different genes, and where you start I don’t even know. Inflammatory bowel disease seems to be a much more contained problem. Probably about 10 or 15 genes are involved in it.

    Dr Warren McNabb (AgResearch)

    There is a lot of genetic information that is already in the literature that we can draw on. It gives us an opportunity to move quickly into looking at the interaction of diet on those genes.

    Dr Julian Heyes (Plant & Food Research)

    It allows us to just focus on a very specific problem, and to learn everything we can about that problem, and try and see what we could do to overcome that problem.

    Professor Lynn (Ferguson Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland)

    You’ve got something that is an achievable target, where you can really get your methods working, and you can prove that you can do it before you can tackle something bigger.

    Dr Warren McNabb (AgResearch)

    You can imagine that if we started with something like colon cancer, a very complex disease, with very little known about its genetic regulation, you know you would spend an enormous amount of time sorting that out, before you even got to the idea of the diet interaction.