RCSI and Serosep aim to find biomarkers that can predict the progression of the inflammatory bowel disease, to improve treatment options for patients.

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has partnered with Irish diagnostics company Serosep to personalise treatment for ulcerative colitis and improve the quality of life for patients.

Researchers from the RCSI will work with the Limerick company to develop new tests that can predict the progression of the disease and specialise treatments for patients.

Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that damages the lining of the gut and can cause inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine and rectum. There are estimates that 40,000 people in Ireland have IBD, with half of those having either colitis or Crohn’s disease.

The RCSI researchers said medications known as 5-Aminosalicylates are the most common first line of treatment for mild-to-moderate versions of the disease, while steroids, immunosuppressants and biological drugs are commonly used as the disease progresses.

But the team said there is a need to develop biomarker-based methods to identify treatment regimes for patients. Biomarkers are traits that can be measured in the body to see how a patient is reacting to a disease or its treatments, such as tissue or blood samples. Dr Sudipto Das, a lecturer and principal investigator at RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, explained the importance of these biomarkers.

“Currently there are no biomarkers which allow prediction of disease progression in patients with ulcerative colitis,” Das said. “Having such biomarkers could augment decision-making for clinicians about whether the patient could benefit from an escalation of treatment at an early stage of the disease.”

Das’ team will work with Serosep to validate specific ulcerative colitis biomarkers that the RCSI group has identified in the lab. It is hoped this research will lead to improved diagnostic services that can help clinicians make decisions about the most suitable treatment for a patient.

Serosep was founded in 1997 and manufactures clinical diagnostic products at its base in Limerick. The company also has subsidiaries in London and Johannesburg and claims to have an infrastructure that can support its products from conception to commercialisation. Serosep was awarded Irish Medtech Company of the Year in 2021.

“[The partnership] will allow us to create knowledge within the company through collaborative research, the outputs of which would present us with the opportunity for strategic diversification in our product offering to support our continued growth,” said Serosep CEO Dermot Scanlon.

Last year, scientists from the Cork research centre for food and medicine – APC Microbiome – claimed to have created an AI system that can assist with ulcerative colitis management.

Leigh Mc Gowran

This article originally appeared on www.siliconrepublic.com and can be found here