A new study aimed at better understanding Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is recruiting patients in Scotland and England with either of the debilitating bowel conditions.
The PREdiCCt study, led by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, aims to understand how everyday factors can play a role in the sudden reactivation of symptoms (called flare-ups), and investigate whether diet and lifestyle changes can help those who have these conditions.
With funding from Cure Crohn’s Colitis, Crohn’s and Colitis in Childhood, and the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, the study will gather information from 1,500 patients with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.
Patients who take part will be asked to complete online questionnaires about their diet, physical activity, and sleeping habits, and monitor feelings of stress and anxiety. Participants will also be asked to provide mouth swabs and stool samples so researchers can perform DNA testing and examine patients’ gut bacteria.
Study participants will be asked to provide information about how they are controlling their symptoms, as well as any significant life events, for up to two years.
Researchers will use patient information to compare those who experience flare-ups throughout the study with those who do not, with a goal toward understanding how everyday factors influence the onset of symptoms.
According to Crohn’s & Colitis UK, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK.
Both Crohn’s and UC are marked by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system, and they may share some symptoms, including persistent diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain, fever, occasional rectal bleeding, and fatigue. These symptoms can be severe enough to disturb all aspects of everyday life.
There is currently no cure for these diseases, and available treatments only relieve symptoms. Some patients may need to undergo surgery to remove a section of their bowel, but they ofen relapse.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen are providing expertise in diet and nutrition and will be responsible for performing the analysis of patients’ gut bacteria. DNA sequencing will be conducted at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
“The Scottish Government is pleased to be supporting this study, along with the charities Cure Crohn’s and Colitis and Crohn’s & Colitis in Childhood, to help understand what may trigger relapses in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the lives of people with these debilitating conditions,” Health Secretary Shona Robison said in a news release.
“Patients often ask us whether there are any changes to their diet or lifestyle that would help to better manage their symptoms. We hope the findings from this study will give us the evidence base needed to provide better advice for those living with these debilitating diseases,” said chief investigator Charlie Lees, senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh and consultant gastroenterologist at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.