Dedicated to Advancing IBD Research
Our goal is to develop more effective and specific treatments and, ultimately, to prevent and cure inflammatory bowel disease.
At the University of Chicago Medicine, clinical practice and medical research form a seamless circle that leads to better diagnoses, better treatment and better outcomes for our patients. Our providers are also investigators, working to identify the causes and understand the mechanisms of inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, our research scientists are active partners in care who collaborate with physicians to solve the complex problems that our patients face. As a result, patients receive the best, most advanced care possible. This also ensures that our clinical trials contribute to emerging trends and changes in IBD, rather than an individual researcher's interests.
Current IBD Clinical Trials
As one of only a limited number of research centers in the country testing new IBD treatments, UChicago Medicine offers a variety of clinical trial therapies — the most advanced treatments available — at the earliest possible time in patients' care. Some of our current studies focus on:
- Disparities in digestive diseases delivery of care
- Novel therapies in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- The utility of chromoendoscopy in ulcerative colitis surveillance
- The role of the microbiome in IBD pathogenesis
Frequently Asked Questions about IBD Research
The days of giving everyone the same drugs and the same therapy are going by the wayside. Today, we customize therapy to the individual patient based on such factors as the exact location of the disease, treatment history and response to medications. We want to emphasize that early intervention and effective therapy are critical to treatment success.
Many times when we look at different medicines, we determine what medicine are we going to use to get somebody better as we say induce remission, and then what medicines are we going to use to keep the patient better, which is maintaining the remission? Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and associated conditions are chronic relapsing inflammatory diseases. So it is important not just to get someone well but to keep them well almost always with medications. Sometimes the choice of medicines depends upon whether the patient can or will take pills, versus medicines that are given by a shot, or medicines that require an intravenous.
Some patients simply can't do one of the other and end up having a preference for a particular delivery. For example, you might think that patients would not want to give themselves a shot but actually some people don't like taking pills and they feel that the shot medicine might work better. Some people prefer an intravenous medicine because the medicine is delivered by a health care professional in a controlled setting. But it's also more inconvenient because that person then has to travel to the location and wait while the medicine is mixed, and then wait for it to go in as well, and sometimes even has to be monitored afterwards too. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, may limit our ability to use medicines, such as steroids.
Other factors that we consider are whether you've had infection before, whether you've had any type of cancer or tumor before, and sometimes even whether you are someone who'd be very susceptible to a side effect from a medicine, perhaps due to your family's history with that medicine as well. Well I hope this has been helpful introduction of some of the things that go through our mind when choosing or helping you choose the best medicine for your disease. This is Dr. Russell Cohen. Thank you for joining me today.
Our multispecialty IBD team has extensive experience in accurately diagnosing and effectively treating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Because we believe that ongoing treatment is more effective than periodic interventions for acute episodes, we continually monitor our patients’ progress and quality of life. And our center integrates compassionate patient care with innovative research.
Clinical trials of new and emerging therapies potentially offer the patient a more effective treatment. When patients participate in a clinical trial, they are helping to guide our therapies and to advance the field.
Much is happening in basic, translational and clinical research for IBD. Our clinicians interact closely with immunologists, microbiologists, geneticists, pathologists and other scientists at the University of Chicago who are working in the field of digestive diseases. Current studies are looking at the many genes associated with IBD and the role of intestinal microflora in contributing to the disorder. Whatever the area of research, we all have the same goals: to develop better and more specific treatments for IBD and ultimately to prevent and cure the disease.
A History of Innovations in Research & Care
The University of Chicago has been a leader in IBD research and innovation for more than 85 years. Our medical research has advanced the understanding of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and allowed us to develop new treatments and clinical protocols for these conditions. Explore several of our accomplishments and projects.
- Identifying the first gene for Crohn's disease, the NOD2, which is involved in the immune system's initial response to bacterial infection
- Developing surgeries to avoid the need for an ileostomy when removing the colon
- Examining genetic risk factors and defining the impact of environmental factors in IBD, such as diet, cigarette smoking and use of oral contraceptives
- Advancing new conventional, immunomodulatory and recent biologic therapies for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
- Demonstrating the relationship between inflammation and cancer risk in ulcerative colitis and developing novel screening
- Maintaining a comprehensive NIH-funded Digestive Diseases Research Core focused on the gut microbiome
- Explaining the role of epigenetic changes (changes in gene expression) in IBD and inflammation
New guidelines for treating patients with ulcerative colitis
A team of experts, led by Dr. David Rubin, established new guidelines on diagnosing and managing ulcerative colitis. The guidelines are aimed at helping patients experience sustained periods of remission from inflammatory disease while relying less on traditionally used steroids.