JERUSALEM, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli scientists have identified a protein responsible for critical processes in intestinal diseases, which can create new treatments and reduce side effects in anti-cancer treatments, said a report on Tuesday.
The scientists found that the inhibition of the "ARTS" protein protects the stem cells that are essential for intestines function, said the report published by the Israel Institute of Technology.
The researchers assumed that because of the long life span of the stem cells, they may accumulate mutations and cause diseases such as cancer.
It was found, as assumed, that the intestine stem cells are subjected to a process of planned and targeted mortality as part of a control mechanism in case of mutation.
The researchers also found that a critical protein in this process is ARTS, which is specifically expressed in mouse and human intestinal glands.
Deletion of the gene responsible for the protein's production led to a dramatic increase in the number of stem cells in the intestine and in the size of their niche, after these cells did not commit "suicide."
Stem cells in the intestines are severely affected by anti-cancer treatments, resulting in side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
The researchers found that in the absence of ARTS, these treatments almost did not damage the stem cells, and that intestinal diseases did not have severe symptoms as in "normal" patients.
The researchers believe that with specific drugs that inhibit the ARTS protein, new ways of treating diseases and reducing side effects will be developed.