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IBD research smashes recruitment target two years early

by Anna Smith

Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has announced that its inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) research has hit its recruitment target of 25,000 participants two years ahead of schedule.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BioResource gives people who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis a chance to be a part of a national programme to support research into the diseases, with an aim to provide investigators researching IBD immediate access to people and speed up their research to create new treatments.

The research group was founded in 2016 by the UK IBD Genetics Consortium and the NIHR BioResource for Translational Research, when the NIHR IBD BioResource began to create a national resource of well characterised individuals who are affected by the disease, with hospitals helping to recruit patients.

Now, the team has successfully signed up more than 25,000 people and has over 90 hospitals actively recruiting patients, with more than ten studies using the NIHR IBD BioResource.

Dr Miles Parkes, a consultant gastroenterologist at Cambridge University Hospitals and lead for NIHR IBD BioResource, said that getting to the 25,000 initial recruitment mark is a “fantastic tour de force.”

He went on to say that “The NIHR IBD BioResource is a nationwide effort, recruiting people who have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis specifically so that they can help researchers to better understand the causes of IBD and develop better treatments.”

Talking of the research process, he explained: “People who sign up to the NIHR IBD BioResource provide a small blood sample and complete a short health and lifestyle questionnaire. They will be contacted regarding future research projects for which they meet inclusion criteria and given further information.

“They then decide study-by-study if they would like to participate or not. The studies could range from completing an online survey, to providing a fresh blood sample or even participating in a trial of a new treatment. Our ongoing large-scale recruitment of patients will allow us to fulfill our mission – to facilitate outstanding IBD research in the UK.”

In the UK, at least 300,000 people are affected by Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis – known collectively as IBD – with growing evidence that the number could be almost double that. Despite major advances in characterising the genetic and some of the environmental factors that predispose, much work remains to be done to fully understand IBD and develop better treatments.