The atomic structure of a prostaglandin D2.

The researchers from the university's Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute based their findings on the elevated levels of prostaglandin D2 on people who have long-term remission from the disease characterized by ulcers in the colon. They also found the same level of the chemical in laboratory rats having remission of the debilitating condition.

The level of prostaglandin D2 is a key factor in preventing new episodes of ulcerative colitis, according to John Wallace, director of the institute and a professor of medicine for the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. He said the findings may lead to a new treatment for UC and Crohn's disease.

The cause and treatment of UC is unknown and the condition requires the surgical removal of the colon.

Prostaglandins are members of a group of lipid compounds that are derived enzymatically from essential fatty acids. It is secreted by tissues for various functions, such as constriction and dilation of vascular smooth muscle cells, aggregation or disaggregation of platelets, muscular constriction, calcium movement, hormone regulation and cell growth control, according to