Leading the fight on disease

Researching Crohn's and colitis
Researching Crohn's and colitis

This week is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week – and a Southside charity is leading the way in the battle to find a cure for the two devastating digestive diseases.

Cure Crohn’s Colitis (C3), founded by Eaglesham man Ivor Tiefenbrun, has embarked on a £475,000 research project in an attempt to find the environmental factors which trigger Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Scotland has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world. In young people, the incidence has doubled every 10 years for the past four decades. It is a devastating and life-long condition causing severe abdominal pain, sickness, extreme fatigue and diarrhea.

Mr Tiefenbrun, who owns Linn Products in nearby Waterfoot, suffers from ulcerative colitis.

C3 recently secured a £225,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office for the research. The charity, which gives 100 per cent of its donations towards research, has donated £125,000 from its funds. Fellow charity Crohn’s and Colitis in Childhood, based in London, has donated another £125,000.

Researchers hope the study, called PREdiCCT, will help determine if environmental factors, especially diet, and gut bacteria play a part in developing the condition and influence the severity of the disease.

The project will involve 1500 IBD patients currently in remission. Around 30 have been recruited so far in Edinburgh, with other sites to be launched around the UK very soon. If the research is successful, it will help scientists to design better treatment.

One of the scientists within the research team, Dr Charlie Lees, tweeted this week: “My vision is that within five years I can tell what causes IBD to develop and how to prevent flares.”

One of the co-investigators within the research team is consultant gastroenterologist Dr Daniel Gaya, who is also on the board of trustees at C3.

Co-investigator Dr Daniel Gaya added: “The major aim of this study is to identify the environmental – especially dietary – and gut bacteria factors that predispose to disease flare and influence disease outcomes in IBD.”