Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) encompasses a group of diseases that include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, among others. Thus far, IBD has proven to be a very complex disease, with no straight-forward microbial causes. Instead, it has been linked to the overall health of the microbiome, which includes disproportionate populations of healthy and unhealthy associated bacteria and their metabolites.
The iHMP is tackling the connection between IBD and the microbiome through a longitudinal IBD study. The study will recruit 90 patients who are: adults recently diagnosed with IBD, children recently diagnosed with IBD, people with established cases of IBD, and people with no IBD who will serve as controls. Each person in the study will sample his/her own stool once every 2 weeks for 1 year. The stool will be sampled for its entire microbial community, including bacteria and viruses, as well as proteins, and metabolites. In addition, biopsies will be performed on the patients' guts periodically over the year. Finally, blood samples will also be taken.
The overall goal of the study is threefold:
1) "identifying the molecular mechanisms by which the intestinal microbiome may trigger...IBD"
2) "determining if microbial composition predicts subsequent risk of flareups in [IBD]"
3) "testing whether successful response to therapy can be predicted from the stool microbiota"
This study will be completed within the year and all the data will be made available at ibdmdb.org. Check back with this blog throughout the year for updates.
I also want to draw attention to the great work being supported by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) microbiome initiative. The CCFA is entering the later stages of their own research projects and I encourage any interested people to check out the CCFA website.