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New Tests to Help Predict Disease Progression in Ulcerative Colitis

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 24 Jan 2024
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Image: The new partnership is set to personalize treatment for ulcerative colitis (Photo courtesy of RCSI)
Image: The new partnership is set to personalize treatment for ulcerative colitis (Photo courtesy of RCSI)

Ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, progressively damages the gut lining. It leads to inflammation and ulcers in the colon and rectum. Currently, the initial treatment for mild-to-moderate cases typically involves 5-Aminosalicylates (5-ASA), while more advanced stages are managed with steroids, immunosuppressants, and biological drugs. There is an urgent need for accurate biomarker-based methods to quickly identify the most effective treatment plans post-diagnosis. Now, a new collaboration aims to personalize treatments for ulcerative colitis, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for those affected by the condition.

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences (Dublin, Ireland) and diagnostics company Serosep Ltd. (Limerick, Ireland) have joined forces to expedite the development of innovative tests to predict disease progression in individuals with ulcerative colitis. This initiative will focus on developing technology to identify patients whose condition is likely to worsen. The goal is to ensure individuals receive the most beneficial care for their specific disease stage while avoiding unnecessary treatments.

The partnership will concentrate on validating specific biomarkers for ulcerative colitis, initially identified by the RCSI group in laboratory settings. The aim is to establish a new in-vitro diagnostic tool that will aid clinicians in making informed decisions about the best treatment options for their patients. The tool will be based on a panel of measurable and trackable biomarkers in tissue samples and potentially in blood samples.

“Currently there are no biomarkers which allow prediction of disease progression in patients with ulcerative colitis,” said Dr. Sudipto Das, Lecturer and Principal Investigator at 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.”

“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.”

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