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New microbiome research of practical value to patients

 

Two of the most important and largest microbiome studies ever undertaken in patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease have been conducted by a team of researchers in Cork from APC Microbiome Ireland. The research, which also includes collaborating scientists from the UK, USA and elsewhere took two different approaches to show that patients with both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have disturbances in their microbiome (the collection of bacteria living in the human gut).

The first study which has appeared in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, showed important changes in the microbes sampled at colonoscopy which were directly associated with inflammation in the colon.

The second study followed 700 Irish and Canadian patients over time and revealed disturbances in the microbiome associated with relapses of disease. The work published in the journal Gut, will open the way for doctors to be able to predict relapses of disease before patients develop symptoms.

Inflammatory bowel disease is comprised of two chronic inflammatory conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which affects tens of thousands of patients in Ireland. While the condition can be controlled with drugs, the unpredictability of relapses is a major challenge for patients and is one of the reasons why the microbiome is so important in providing markers to predict relapse.

While ethnicity, diet and geographical location were found to contribute to microbiota variation globally, it is the variation in microbiota composition within individuals followed over time which increases the power of microbiome markers to predict relapse.  This has implications for future microbiota studies and for the development of precision medicine.

Original References:

Colonic microbiota is associated with inflammation and host epigenomic alterations in inflammatory bowel disease  Fergal Ryan et al Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 1512 (2020)

Ranking microbiome variance in inflammatory bowel disease: a large longitudinal intercontinental study  Adam G Clooney*, Julia Eckenberger* et al Gut (2020); https://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2020/06/15/gutjnl-2020-321106

Pictured above (left to right) are Dr Marcus Claesson, Ms Rachel Fitzgerald, Ms Julia Eckenberger and Prof Fergus Shanahan, APC Microbiome SFI Research Centre and School of Microbiology, University College Cork. 

Below: Cover of July issue of Gut which is Cobh, Co. Cork!

Press Release