A Scottish university has received more than £900,000 to continue research into adults and children with active Crohn’s disease.
The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded Glasgow University 1.1 million US dollars (£904,216) to evaluate the clinical outcomes of a solid food-based diet on those affected.
Researchers worked with doctors at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) to develop “CD-TREAT”, Crohn’s Disease Treatment with Eating.
The diet uses everyday food to achieve the same gut microbiome changes as those seen in a liquid-only treatment known as exclusive enteral nutrition.
Dr Konstantinos Gerasimidis led the study, with the findings published in Gastroenterology, the world’s highest ranked journal for gut diseases and their treatment.
The senior lecturer at the university said: “We are delighted to receive more than (£900,000) in funding from Helmsley.
“This will enable us to further our important research into more tolerable treatments for Crohn’s disease and to understand their mechanism of action.
“We are optimistic that the clinical effect of CD-TREAT will be replicated in larger studies and will compare well with other mainstream drug therapies.
“If these initial findings are replicated, doctors, nurses and dietitians will be able to decrease or replace potentially harmful and expensive drugs and even avoid surgery, for at least some patients.
“All of these have clear implications for improving the quality of life of patients with Crohn’s disease.”
With a carefully designed meal plan including food such as chicken and rice soup, salmon and mashed potatoes, the experts were able to show that CD-TREAT was beneficial in healthy people and in animals with gut inflammation.
In a different part of the study, three out of five children with active Crohn’s treated in a CD-TREAT pilot entered complete remission on the food-based diet, and their gut inflammation decreased.
Meanwhile, the healthy adult participants in the trial reported that CD-TREAT was easier to comply with, and more satiating.
Shefali Soni, Crohn’s disease programme officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said: “Until a cure is found, Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Programme is committed to improving patients’ everyday lives.
“Diet is one of the key environmental factors that shapes our gut microbiota and our efforts to find better treatments for patients include dietary interventions.
“The team at the University of Glasgow is exploring a potentially transformative therapy by creating a solid food-based version of the well-known EEN.”
The full paper in Gastroenterology can be found here.