A new Irish clinical partnership aims to personalise the treatment of ulcerative colitis by predicting the progression of the disease in patients
The alliance between the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and Irish diagnostics company Serosep Ltd plans to accelerate the development of new tests to help forecast disease progression.
The project will develop technology to identify ulcerative colitis patients who are likely to advance in their disease, ensuring that people get the most effective care, and sparing people treatments where they are not likely to be of benefit to them.
Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that damages the lining of the gut over time. The condition causes inflammation and ulcers in the colon and rectum.
At present, 5-Aminosalicylates (5-ASA) are the most common first line of treatment for mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis, and as the disease progresses, it is typically managed with steroids, immunosuppressants and biological drugs.
“Currently there are no biomarkers which allow prediction of disease progression in patients with ulcerative colitis,” said Dr Sudipto Das of the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences.
“Having such biomarkers could augment decision-making for clinicians about whether the patient could benefit from an escalation of treatment at an early stage of the disease.”
Dr Das’s team will work with Serosep to validate specific ulcerative colitis biomarkers that the RCSI group has identified in the lab. The plan is to create a new in vitro diagnostic solution that can support clinicians as they make decisions about the most suitable treatment for the patient based on a panel of biomarkers that can be measured and tracked in samples of their tissue and potentially in the blood as well.
“Through recent work in our lab we have identified specific genes that can potentially predict disease progression in adult ulcerative colitis patients,” added Dr Das.
“This partnership will allow us to further validate these genes in a larger cohort of patient samples and enable development of a test that can be applied in the clinic to identify patients who are likely to progress at an early stage of disease.
“This in turn would allow early treatment for those patients, and sparing patients who are less likely to progress from unnecessary treatment. The ultimate impact of this test would be to improve quality of life in patients with ulcerative colitis.”
The partnership between Serosep and RCSI is co-funded by Serosep and the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme.
Founded in 1997, Serosep is headquartered in Limerick with subsidiaries in London and Johannesburg. It is focused on the clinical in vitro diagnostic market, specifically in infectious disease.
Serosep CEO Dermot Scanlon said that this new project ‘will allow us to create knowledge within the company through collaborative research, the outputs of which would present us with the opportunity for strategic diversification in our product offering to support our continued growth’.