Select Page

For much of 2020, the scientific community’s main focus was finding ways to combat COVID-19, which has upended normal routines globally. Even for specialised organisations such as Crohn’s and Colitis UK, research studies were put on hold during the year as personnel were redeployed to assist the National Health Service (NHS) or support coronavirus research. However, with a vaccine deployment programme underway in 2021, the organisation finds itself in a position to resume its research into Crohn’s and Colitis.  

Foremost for the organisation in 2021 is to support new research, which is a significant decision given that Crohn’s and Colitis UK has committed to increasing knowledge about the conditions for more than three decades. During this time, the charity’s research work has led to improved treatments and better awareness. Even amid a pandemic, its efforts have helped Crohn’s and Colitis patients understand how to navigate coronavirus-related issues.  

Interested researchers applying for funding will be delighted to know that Crohn’s and Colitis UK has dedicated at least £100,000 towards research. This figure has been made possible by the generous contributions of the organisation’s supporters, such as Paul Smith, Touchstone Education co-founder.  

Mr Smith has had Crohn’s disease since he was 14 years old and has lived with the condition for more than four decades. Over the years he has shown support for the cause by completing a number of fundraisers and educating as many people as possible about the disease. 

New Ideas 

Across the world, researchers have been working hard to find out the effects of COVID-19 on IBD. Their efforts have concentrated on managing symptoms during the pandemic, the impact of various IBD medication on the severity of the coronavirus illness, and the development of antibodies in people with Crohn’s and Colitis. 

In the UK, several teams have taken different approaches to learn more about the link. For example, researchers at the University of Greenwich and Manchester Royal Infirmary are hoping to find out more about the experiences of people living with IBD during the coronavirus pandemic and how this experience impacted their overall well-being.  

Another team is looking into how expressive writing can help people with IBD combat the distress associated with COVID-19. Specifically, the research aims to uncover whether the writing intervention improves the quality of life and mental health of adults living with Crohn’s or Colitis who have mild to moderate levels of distress. 

The Benefit of Research 

Continued research into any aspect of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is helpful to the entire community, as progress made in the detection and treatment of IBD improves the lives of those affected and makes finding a cure more likely. Studies have led researchers to uncover the bacterial changes that precede the emergence of ulcerative colitis in Canada. Monitoring these changes could prove helpful in providing potential markers for the disease that can be monitored and treated proactively in people at risk. 

The bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a crucial area of investigation for IBD. For years, researchers have learned more about the gut microbiome only after the disease has set in. At this point, it can be difficult to tell if the changes in the gut are a result of the disease or took place beforehand.  

Being able to recognise any changes before ulcerative colitis sets in is a significant step towards learning more about the disease. According to the team behind the research, it raises the potential of finding ways to delay or even prevent the disease from developing in the first place. Early testing could provide a way for the medical community to identify those at risk before active ulcerative colitis sets in. Targeted medication could then be administered to treat it.