Every year, the foundation funds a fellowship at the University of Glasgow. Each fellow is carefully selected for their talent and potential to change the future of IBD treatment – we’re investing in the stars of tomorrow. To date, we have appointed five research fellows whose work has supported and delivered ground-breaking research and innovative healthcare roles.
Laying the foundations for a new treatment
Establishing new treatments is crucial to help patients live better with Crohn’s and Colitis. Funding for two one-year scientific research posts to support all gastrointestinal studies at Glasgow Royal Infirmary laid the foundations for the CD Treat Diet. The diet aims to change the way Crohn’s disease is treated in children and adults by swapping a liquid-only diet to one which includes many everyday foods.
The research centred around the human gut bacteria which, despite how it might sound, is very useful and helps us stay healthy. However, there is a strong belief that rather than controlling irritation and inflammation within the gut – as it does in most people – it may cause inflammation in patients with IBD.
The research investigated the differences between the bacteria of IBD patients and healthy people, and ways of changing the bacteria in patients, so it mirrored that of those without IBD. Using an ‘out of body’ bowel in the research lab, the research team carried out studies which resulted in the discovery of the new diet.
“With the support of the Catherine McEwan Foundation we are revolutionising dietary therapy in Crohn’s disease through CD Treat”
Dr Konstantinos Gerasimidis
The traditional liquid diet, while effective, requires feeding through a nasal gastric tube, making school life difficult for children and young people, and social situations challenging for all patients. The CD Treat Diet means the tube can be removed, and patients can eat alongside family and friends.
Trials are already showing positive patient outcomes from a medical perspective, and the diet is improving everyday life too.
Providing specialist IBD care on every visit and enabling more clinical research
Traditionally, patients at the Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow would be seen by an IBD nurse every two or three visits. Thanks to our funding, a new role has been developed, which means that young patients are cared for by an IBD specialist research nurse at every appointment.
Better access to IBD nursing care means patients can cope better with whatever IBD throws at them, knowing help is at hand when they need it. They benefit from more regular investigations too which helps keep their IBD under good control.
The new role has also made a difference to research, with projects getting off the ground and progressing quicker than before. A significant increase in clinical research studies has allowed faster access to new, effective and safe treatments.
Since our initial funding, the NHS has funded an ongoing post, and the role has been mirrored by other teams in Glasgow. Other centres have also adopted this style of post after seeing how successful it is in IBD care and treatment.
Discovering new ways to stay healthy through diet and nutrition
Diet and nutrition are vital to living as well as possible with Crohn’s and Colitis. Our funding for an IBD research dietician post has allowed time to be dedicated to studying how they can be used more effectively to improve patient outcomes.
The researcher in post carried out a study into the role of dietary supplements in keeping children with Crohn’s disease well after a course of liquid diet. It was subsequently published in BMC gastroenterology so other teams looking after children with IBD could learn from it and enhance their care and treatment. At the time of publication, there was little research into this area, but this study sparked interest and encouraged further work by others.
The role also supported the research which resulted in the discovery of the CD Treat Diet.
Making further research funding accessible
A proportion of our research funding goes to pump-prime projects. In a nutshell, this means that we enable research projects which otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Our funding allows research to get off the ground, which then gives researchers access to funding from other sources which will only provide research grants to live projects. Such projects can attract hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding, thanks to our initial support.