GMI News

GMI’s IBD Study Goes Nationwide

Ged Nash, TD, and karate star, Caradh O’Donovan supporting the rollout of GMI’s nationwide IBD study.

Nine sites across the island now collaborating with GMI in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Northern Ireland

GMI announced today the nationwide expansion of its cutting-edge genomics study into Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the first of its kind in Ireland.

Six additional research sites have begun collaborating with GMI in this pioneering research, resulting in a total of nine centres in five regions now part of an initiative that aims to identify genetic markers that can help diagnose, predict disease severity and identify personalised treatments for people with IBD.

The six new sites are University Hospital Limerick; University Hospital Galway; Cork and Mercy University Hospitals; Beaumont Hospital Dublin; and St. James’s Hospital Dublin. They join Tallaght Hospital, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, and hospitals in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the Clinical Translational Research Centre (C-TRIC) at Altnagelvin Hospital site in Derry/Londonderry, who participated in the study’s initial launch late last year.

The announcement coincides with World IBD Day (19th May) which seeks to raise awareness and support the more than ten million people around the world and over 20,000 people in Ireland living with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)[1], an umbrella term for chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders primarily affecting adults in the prime of their life. There are two major forms of IBD – Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC) – which are life-long conditions for which there is currently no known cause or cure

Onset is typically in childhood or in young adults so IBD has potential to impact educational performance and work productivity, as well as quality of life.  Crohn’s Disease is associated with increased mortality in the Irish population[2] and there is an increased risk of colon cancer to people with either Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Ireland has one of the highest rates of Colitis in the world.

Senator Ged Nash, Crohn’s patient and Patron of the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC), commented, “I am excited by Genomics Medicine Ireland’s expansion of its IBD genomic research study across the island Ireland, which greatly increases its potential for discovering new medication, tailored treatments, or even one day finding a cure for this pervasive disease. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was 14 years old, and throughout my adult life I have sought to to help to raise awareness of what it means to live with IBD, both through informative events with the ISCC and via my various roles in the Oireachtas. I truly feel that this will be a sea change in the fight against IBD.”

Karate Champion, Caradh O’Donovan, said “I’m delighted to be celebrating International IBD Day with Genomics Medicine Ireland as they announce the expansion their cutting-edge genomics study into IBD. Almost four years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which forced me to take a break and reassess my career but due the amazing treatment and care I received I can now manage the disease and continue doing what I love the most. I would encourage anyone with IBD to take part in this study so we can increase our understanding of the disease and improve the treatments available.”

Bruno Lucas, Chairperson of the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC), added, “The size and relative homogeneity of Ireland make for ideal genomic research conditions, and the extent of the Irish diaspora means that any findings can potentially be applied worldwide. So it’s important that as many IBD patients as possible participate in this study, since the more we increase our understanding of IBD through research such as this the better chance we have of improving the treatments available to IBD patients not only in Ireland but across the world.”

Sean Ennis, Chief Scientific Officer, Genomics Medicine Ireland said; “IBD has evolved into a global disease – over 2.5 million in Europe[3] and 1 million residents in the USA are estimated to have IBD, while its prevalence is also on the rise in newly industrialised continents. Our research is focused on new discoveries leading to the prevention of IBD. We will be examining the underlying genetic changes using techniques such as whole genome sequencing to identify both common and rare variants associated with IBD. We will also study other structural changes in the genome and how changes in our genetics contribute to IBD disease risk, progression and drug response.”

People living with IBD attending any of the participating research centres and who are interested in participating in the study can ask their consultant for more information.

[1] Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, (https://www.iscc.ie/#!about/c126y)
[1] O’Toole et al, 2014