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Millions of dollars to boost Crohn’s disease research

An international philanthropic trust has awarded significant funding to aid scientists' understanding of the currently incurable condition known as Crohn's disease

The £1.8 million award to the University of Edinburgh will help improve how experts monitor and determine outcomes for the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Funding comes from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust – a US-based charity committed to improving lives.

Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Program aims to find a cure for the disease and to enhance patients’ quality of life.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust typically does not accept unsolicited applications and instead identifies research worldwide of exceptionally high standard. This is one of the first projects in Scotland to be funded by Helmsley.

In IBD, mitochondria have been found to give off ‘danger signals’ that immune cells confuse with bacteria, leading them to trigger an unintended and harmful inflammatory responses.

The project aims to find out if these danger signals could be used to develop a simple, non-invasive test, using blood or stool, which can show if the inflamed bowel wall has healed after treatment. Currently, the only way to determine healing is by using invasive colonoscopy.

Researchers will investigate if this simple non-invasive test could allow doctors and patients to forecast how patients’ are progressing, which could speed the search for new therapies. It could also help doctors spot different forms of Crohn’s and develop personalized treatments.

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Posted on: April 28 2019

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