Gene That Helps Control Acid Production is Discovered

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati have identified a gene that helps control the production of stomach acid, according to data published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Overproduction of stomach acid can result in reflux disease as well as peptic ulcers. The scientists found that when Slc26a9, a transporter gene responsible for the production of chloride (gastric acid) in the stomach, was removed from the laboratory mouse model's systems, acid secretion in the stomach stopped.

Gastric acid, comprised mainly of hydrochloric acid (HCL), is the main secretion in the stomach and helps the body break down and digest food. Although investigators have known about the gene that causes the secretion of hydrogen in the stomach, the gene that causes chloride to secrete in the stomach had remained unknown, according to Manoocher Soleimani, M.D., director of the nephrology division at the University of Cincinnati and lead investigator of the study.

The discovery could lead to the development of more effective treatment options for the many people suffering from acid reflux disease (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD)-which is caused by regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus-and peptic ulcers-which is caused by the passing of excess stomach acid into the small intestine.

"A large number of people have acid reflux or peptic ulcers. This occurs because of overproduction of acid in the stomach, and current medications that help control this condition cause undesirable side effects," said Dr. Soleimani. The long-term use of these drugs, according to Dr. Soleimani, could result in damage to the lining of the stomach, as well as other problems. "With this information, we hope to one day be able to administer gene therapies to patients and avoid this painful and damaging problem altogether," he said.

Finding Relief From GERD
If you suffer from acid reflux disease, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter antacids, such as Maalox or Rolaids; H2 blockers, such as Tagamet HB or Pepcid AC or  prescription medications, such as the proton pump inhibitors Prilosec or Nexium, to relieve your symptoms. Making some lifestyle changes could also help, including:
·    Quitting smoking
·    Losing weight
·    Eating small, frequent meals
·    Avoiding lying down for three hours after a meal

Treatments for Peptic Ulcer
A peptic ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Left untreated, peptic ulcers can lead to internal bleeding and may even perforate the wall of the stomach or small intestine. The majority of peptic ulcers are caused by an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Standard treatment in this case is a combination of drugs, including antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor.
If you suffer from a peptic ulcer, your doctor will determine which treatment is best for you.