Faculty researcher Professor Werner Müller is the Scientific Coordinator for a new €12 million systems research network, created to identify better treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The network, called SysmedIBD, includes universities and companies from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, and New Zealand.
The five year project is aiming for a better understanding of the disease. To achieve this, the team will attempt to identify risk genes, investigate the effects of diet, and develop methods for better prediction of treatment for patients. The research network will use the systems medicine approach. This utilises specific patient details to build mathematical models and provide the best possible treatments for each individual. Professor Müller explains:
“This systems medicine approach will lead to a better personalised diagnosis and treatment of patients. We will target the central pathway of inflammation in the hope that by understanding the signalling processes we can eventually manipulate them. IBD affects every patient differently making it 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.”
The term IBD refers mainly to Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Both conditions are chronic long-term diseases that involve inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. In the UK, IBD affects about one person in every 350. This new network aims to bring relief to these people. Professor 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.”
Funding for the project has come from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme. The €12 million grant is being shared between 12 participants, with the largest share, €2.5 million, coming to The University of Manchester.