Updated: Tuesday, 27th June 2017 @ 10:39am

Manchester University leads £10million search for Inflammatory Bowel Disease cure

Manchester University leads £10million search for Inflammatory Bowel Disease cure

By Chris Higgins

Sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease could see improved treatments as the University of Manchester takes the lead in a £10.3million international research programme.

The investigation into long-term chronic inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, could identify key genes involved in development of the conditions.

The network of 12 institutions, called SysmedIBD, received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme.

As Manchester received the largest share of the funding, the research is being co-ordinated by Professor Werner Müller, of the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

Prof Müller believes that knowing how genes and diet affect the risk of developing these diseases could help doctors provide better treatments for sufferers.

He said: “This systems medicine approach will lead to a better personalized diagnosis and treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

“We will be targeting the central pathway of inflammation in the hope that by understanding the signalling processes we can eventually manipulate them.”

In the UK, IBD affects about one in every 350 people. Around 100,000 people have ulcerative colitis, and 52,000 people have Crohn’s disease in England.

The research could have a wider impact than just those suffering IBD, as understanding of the inflammatory response could also be applied to other diseases such as Arthritis.

Prof Jonathan Rhodes from the collaborating group at the University of Liverpool says “This is a great boost for Inflammatory Bowel Disease research in the UK and stands an excellent chance of leading to benefits for patients.”

The network of institutions, including universities and companies from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel and New Zealand, held their first meeting at the end of February.

During the discussions they heard from the patient group Crohn’s & Colitis UK about what those affected by IBD would like to see come from the work of SysMedIBD.

Prof Müller said: “IBD affects every patient differently making it very difficult to develop effective treatments.

“Current treatments are very expensive and many patients develop resistance to the drugs.

“We hope that this intense programme of research will help us to overcome the current limitations of treatments for this incurable condition.”

Picture courtesy of tr0tt3r, with thanks.

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