Current IBD Research Projects

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Integrated E-Health Strategy to optimise outpatient disease and psychological management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Dr Belinda Jackson and Dr Peter De Cruz

3rd and final year of Gusty Group funding ($150,000 funded in total).

The increasing incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) over the past decade has resulted in increased health care resource utilisation and longer specialist outpatient waiting lists. IBD is associated with an increased prevalence of psychological morbidity and adversely affects quality of life, societal interaction and functioning. Electronic-health or ‘e-Health’ technologies incorporating self-management strategies to manage patients remotely, such as telemedicine, web-based interventions, and smart-phone applications, may offer a solution to streamline outpatient management. Solutions such as detecting earlier changes in patient well-being (ie: disease activity, medication status and psychological health) and providing greater access to personalised care in real-time. However, whether e-Health technologies offer any significant benefit over traditional outpatient based IBD care remains to be proven. This project aims to improve the outpatient management of IBD patients by proving that eHealth monitoring of patients with mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis can improve disease control and patient satisfaction. It will be the first prospective study to use an integrated e-Health model of care to optimally manage disease activity, psychological distress and chronic disease aspects of care; evaluate e-Health directed standardised clinical pathways to maintain quality assurance; incorporate clinical risk stratification to tailor therapy; and measure patient engagement in e-Health and the impact on outcomes.

Targeting the Clec12A pathway for the regulation of gastrointestinal inflammation.

Associate Professor Mireille Hanna Lahoud and Dr Jakob Begun

2nd year of Gutsy Group funding of proposed 3 year project ($100,000 funded to date).

The immune system’s role is to protect the body from harmful infections. Specialised cells within the body, called antigen presenting cells, monitor for signs of infection, and activate the immune system accordingly. This enables the immune system to induce a tightly regulated immune response to eliminate infected cells, but also minimise harm to the body. However, in some circumstances, the immune system can respond inappropriately to non-threatening factors (e.g. normal self-cells or commensal bacteria that are naturally present within the body) resulting in auto-inflammatory diseases. IBD, including Crohn’s disease, are chronic auto-inflammatory diseases affecting the gut. Patients require life-long therapies, with many requiring surgery. The researchers have identified a protein receptor that is expressed on the surface of antigen presenting cells and can regulate autoinflammatory responses to protect against IBD. The research aims to understand how this modulator controls inflammation and to develop strategies to target this protein and dampen gastrointestinal inflammation in IBD patients. CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS Pregnancy In Crohn’s and Colitis: Observations, Levels and Outcomes: The PICCOLO Study. Dr Emma Flanagan and Associate Professor Sally Bell 1st year of proposed 3 year project funded by direct donor ($50,000), Jim Carroll, The Trustee of The Donald Ratcliffe and Phyllis Macleod Trust. IBD commonly affects women when they are in their childbearing years. Most IBD medications are safe in pregnancy, and the greatest driver of poor pregnancy outcomes in patients with IBD is active disease, which can increase rates of miscarriage and preterm birth. However, women with IBD can have poor knowledge about the adverse impact of active IBD on pregnancy, and conversely, on the safety of maintenance IBD medication during pregnancy. The PICCOLO study is the first study designed to evaluate the effect of a single, individualized patient education consultation as an intervention for improving pregnancy-related knowledge and outcomes in women with IBD. The study is for female patients with IBD aged 18-45 who are pregnant or have an active pregnancy wish. In participants who are pregnant during the study period, serial assessments of disease activity will be conducted as well as monitoring of drug levels during pregnancy and after delivery (ie: for mothers and babies). Disease activity during pregnancy will be safely assessed to ensure inflammation is controlled and that both women and babies are given the best opportunities for a successful pregnancy and delivery.

Pregnancy In Crohn’s and Colitis: Observations, Levels and Outcomes: The PICCOLO Study.

Dr Emma Flanagan and Associate Professor Sally Bell

1st year of proposed 3 year project funded by direct donor ($50,000), Jim Carroll, The Trustee of The Donald Ratcliffe and Phyllis Macleod Trust.

IBD commonly affects women when they are in their childbearing years. Most IBD medications are safe in pregnancy, and the greatest driver of poor pregnancy outcomes in patients with IBD is active disease, which can increase rates of miscarriage and preterm birth. However, women with IBD can have poor knowledge about the adverse impact of active IBD on pregnancy, and conversely, on the safety of maintenance IBD medication during pregnancy. The PICCOLO study is the first study designed to evaluate the effect of a single, individualized patient education consultation as an intervention for improving pregnancy-related knowledge and outcomes in women with IBD. The study is for female patients with IBD aged 18-45 who are pregnant or have an active pregnancy wish. In participants who are pregnant during the study period, serial assessments of disease activity will be conducted as well as monitoring of drug levels during pregnancy and after delivery (ie: for mothers and babies). Disease activity during pregnancy will be safely assessed to ensure inflammation is controlled and that both women and babies are given the best opportunities for a successful pregnancy and delivery.

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