As originally reported in Cambridge Independent
, inflammatory bowel diseases are about to get a boost in research after Health Data Research UK has awarded a £5 million grant to a new Cambridge based research hub that will use genomics research to match patents with suitable treatment options more quickly.
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease
is an umbrella term used to describe two related diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
. In both of these diseases, there is inflammation in the gut, causing pain, tiredness, weight loss, and diarrhea. There are other less frequent effects such as fever, vomiting, join pain, red eyes, jaundice, and more. These symptoms come in ‘flare ups’ when they are more severe, but they go back to remission after. There is no current cure for either disease, though treatments include diets, exercise, medicines, or surgeries.
The New Research Hub
The Cambridge based hub was proposed by a collaboration between Eastern AHSH and Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP) who have teamed up to, as put by the director of health informatics Mark Avery, “Transform our understanding of inflammatory bowel disease, drive improvements in diagnosis and treatment, and deliver a data framework that could be used in future for other diseases.”
The UK has put money and efforts into seven hubs, each focusing on different major health issues like cancer or respiratory conditions. Their goal is to get to the bottom of therapy options, medicines, and speed up diagnosis in order to mitigate the effects of these diseases. With inflammatory bowel diseases, patients describe how important it is to find an effective treatment quickly in order to curb the disease before it progresses and worsens.
Improvements in Genome Technology
For IBDs, which treatment works best is often personal and involves years of testing out the various treatment options. The different labs will work together to hone in on the clinical imaging and genomics technology which has already driven effective improvements in treatment but has much more untapped potential. Advances in these technologies have transformed the relationship Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients have to their disease, creating massive improvements in therapies. These are diseases without cures and it can take years to find the best treatment option for the patient; this critical time can allow for harmful disease progression. The researchers believe by combining research and with more resources available in this project, finding patient-appropriate treatment options will speed up, lessening the future consequences of the disease.
And while treatment options have progressed greatly from what they once were, the diseases can still be debilitating and continues to be a big part of patients’ lives. Diet and lifestyle continues to revolve around caring for the disease, and the majority of patients end up requiring abdominal surgery. With success of this research, doctors expect they can catch the specific genome of the disease more quickly by identifying which part of the genome is affected which then reduces the likelihood of needing surgery later down the line.