A team of researchers at NUI Galway have discovered a new approach to the treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The study, published in Advanced Science, identified a groundbreaking therapeutic strategy for restoring the lining of the intestine of patients with the condition.
The treatment could also help prevent further inflammation, which causes the disease to worsen over time.
The researchers at NUI Galway CÚRAM designed a hyaluronan (HA) enema.
Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM said that the team strongly believed the system will “result in reduced inflammation and protection of the intestinal lining” by acting as a barrier-protecting system for the damaged colon barrier.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, or IBD, is characterised by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and effects over 3.2 million people in Europe.
The research represents a significant leap forward from the standard treatments for colitis, which focus mainly on maintaining remissions levels, but do not address the root cause of the condition.
Dr Niranjan Kotla conducted the principal research of the study at CÚRAM.
The study was done in collaboration with Dr Venkatakrishna R Jala, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, James Graham Brown Cancer Centre, University of Louisville, in the United States.
Dr Yury Rochev, co-lead on the publication said: “This research demonstrates the efficacy of a unique therapeutic strategy able to induce a positive effect on damaged colonic tissue. The reduction in inflammation will be of great benefit to patients and highlights the potential use of this treatment.”
CÚRAM researchers also identified inflammation-specific targeted carriers for local drug delivery to IBD.
The study, published in Biomaterials, looked at the challenging but potentially effective practice of delivering drugs directly to inflamed intestinal sites.
The research team was also led by Professor Pandit and Dr Rochev in collaboration with Professor Larry Egan, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at NUI Galway.
They developed strong anionic charged inflammation targeted nanocarriers (IT-NCs) loaded with an immunosuppressant model drug.
“Our results suggest that IT-NCs have promising therapeutic potential as delivery carriers’ in colitis management,” said Professor Pandit.
This research was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.