UVA gets $3.6M grant to study Crohn's disease

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

October 27, 2022 -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded University of Virginia (UVA) Children's Hospital a $3.6 million grant to better understand and treat Crohn's disease.

The researchers will study why some patients respond to therapy and others don't; why some patients develop severe complications while others only have mild symptoms; and more. With the money, the team plans to build a sophisticated computer model to interpret the internal workings of cells in the ileum to better understand the metabolic changes that take place inside these cells. Doing so could also help clinicians identify biological markers or metabolic signatures that can be used to improve the early diagnosis of Crohn's and provide personalized medicine.

After developing the computer model, the researchers will recruit volunteers with Crohn's from UVA Health and Emory in Atlanta to provide tissue samples. Using the samples, they will validate the results of their computer modeling and confirm the metabolic signature of Crohn's disease. The scientists will also evaluate whether organoids can be used effectively to study Crohn's.

The work could provide a framework for other scientists studying Crohn's and similar gastrointestinal diseases, accelerate research, and speed up the development of new treatments. The project could also identify Crohn's subtypes among children.

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