Waging Water War on Diarrheal Diseases


Inhibiting the activity of a protein known as hydroxylases could enable researchers to prevent diarrhea by controlling water movement in the intestine.

Worldwide, almost 2 million children die each year as a result of infectious diarrhea1, however, diarrheal diseases are also very common in developed countries.

"Diarrhoea associated intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, colitis, celiac disease and microbial infections are a major health issue in Ireland. It is estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 people visit their local Gastroenterology clinic each year2 seeking treatment for diarrhoea. The cost to the Irish economy in terms of healthcare costs and lost working days is immense," commented Stephen Keely, PhD, senior author on the study and Associate Director of the RCSI Molecular Medicine Lab at Beaumont Hospital.

Explaining the findings of the research study, Dr Keely said: ‘Current treatments for intestinal diseases are not targeted specifically enough and as a result can be ineffective or have serious side effects. Working with researchers in UCD and TCD, we have discovered that a type of protein, known as hydroxylases, play a key role in regulating water and salt transport in the intestines."

"Our experimental results suggest that by inhibiting the activity of these proteins, diarrhea can be prevented. The discovery gives us a promising new target for the development of drugs to treat intestinal diseases that have diarrhea as a primary symptom. Because such drugs would act directly on the cells responsible for controlling water movement in the intestine, they would potentially have better outcomes and reduced side effects for patients," Dr Keely concluded.

The lead author on the paper is Joseph Ward who conducted the research as part of his PhD studies along with Dr Karen Lawler and Dr Keely from the Molecular Medicine Laboratories in RCSI. The team also collaborated with Padraic Fallon from the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, and Cormac Taylor of the Conway Institute at University College Dublin.

This work was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Higher Education Authority's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions Cycle 4, as part of the National Biophotonics Imaging Platform Ireland.


  1. Statistic from Institute for OneWorld Health
  2. The estimated figure for patient visits to gastroenterology clinics for diarrhoea in Ireland has been extrapolated from numbers visiting clinics in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

Source: Royal College of Surgerons in Ireland

Related Videos
Taha Qazi, MD | Credit: Cleveland Clinic
Taha Qazi, MD | Credit: Cleveland Clinic
Taha Qazi, MD | Credit: Cleveland Clinic
Anthony Lembo, MD | Credit: Cleveland Clinic
Prashant Singh, MD | Credit: University of Michigan
Noa Krugliak Cleveland, MD | Credit: University of Chicago
Ali Rezaie, MD | Credit: X
Remo Panaccione, MD | Credit: University of Calgary
Francisca Joly, MD, PhD | Credit: The Transplantation Society
Paul Feuerstadt, MD | Yale School of Medicine
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.