World IBD Day is today (May 19th 2017). The Main Quadrangle in University College Cork, and many famous landmarks worldwide, will be lit in purple to raise awareness about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
Forty thousand people in Ireland live with IBD, and five million people worldwide. Starting in early childhood, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are lifelong debilitating conditions usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30. Paediatric cases of IBD have increased three-fold in Ireland since 2000.
IBD is a chronic, relapsing and remitting disorder which may affect any part of the bowel. Patients often require surgical operations, as well as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drug treatment. Most Irish patients are hospitalised within two years of diagnosis and more than half will eventually need surgery. People living with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer and dying prematurely.
“Every patient with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis should have timely equitable access to the care of a multi-disciplinary team to facilitate quick referral, diagnosis and treatment – including gastroenterologists, specialist nurses, dietetics and psychology support” said Prof Fergus Shanahan, Director of the APC Microbiome Institute, Chair of Medicine at University College Cork and Consultant Gastroenterologist at Cork University Hospital.
Researchers at the APC Microbiome Institute in Cork are working with a number of pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies to develop therapeutic treatments and diagnostics that will improve patients’ lives. With GE Healthcare we have shown that the radiation exposure of patients with chronic conditions, such as IBD, that need repeated CT (computed tomography) scans over their lifetime can be significantly reduced using new computer algorithms, while retaining diagnostic capability thereby enhancing patient safety. We are working with Janssen Biotech/Johnson and Johnson Innovation to explore the role of bacterial viruses (bacteriophage) in shaping the human gut microbiome and their potential use as novel treatments and/or biomarkers of inflammatory bowel disease.
World IBD Day is led by patients’ organisations around the world representing 38 countries on 4 continents. Last year 140 landmarks were lit in purple. In Ireland, the Irish Society for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (ISCC) promotes World IBD Day and the Convention Centre, the Bank of Ireland College Green and the Mansion House in Dublin will all be lit in purple.
The ISCC has also launched the #DoubleUp campaign, calling for the number of specialist Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) nurses to be increased from the current level of just 14 to at least 28, bringing Ireland in line with international best practice. The ISCC is calling on the public to get behind the initiative by signing its online petition available at: https://www.change.org/p/doubleup-for-ibd