Colonoscopies have become an essential tool in detecting and preventing deaths. In fact, one study found that the procedure reduces the risk of bowel cancer by up to 45 percent. But cancer isn’t the only reason a colonoscopy might be ordered. The procedure is also used to detect bowel inflammation. While colonoscopies can be an essential part of diagnosis, they often require hours of prep time, and general anesthesia, and are very invasive and uncomfortable.
However, new research promises many patients an alternative in the form of a non-invasive colonoscopy. Working with the Weizmann Institute of Science, Sheba’s Dr. Bella Ungar led a study that used advanced techniques, including RNA sequencing, to detect inflammation in the bowel by analyzing fecal samples – which could prove a better, less invasive way to pinpoint issues and determine the best course of treatment.
Dr. Ungar’s team compared samples taken from the participants diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease with those of 30 healthy patients. Results showed that samples from individuals with IBD contained four types of immune-related cells that are often associated with and indicate the presence of inflammation.
In addition to replacing invasive screenings, the new research could help medical professionals diagnose and treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Researchers are also investigating how it can be used to detect pancreatic cancer.