UQ tackles Crohn’s disease thanks to research grant

29 Mar 2017
Professor Mark Morrison
Professor Mark Morrison

University of Queensland (UQ) researcher will play a key role with an international scientific team investigating the causes of Crohn’s disease as part of the Eastern Inflammatory Bowel Disease Gut Microbiota (ENIGMA) project.

Professor Mark Morrison from the UQ Diamantina Institute and colleagues in Melbourne and Hong Kong are working on the ENIGMA study, to research the causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The study has received a three-year grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust through the Australasian Gastro Intestinal Research Foundation (AGIRF).

The ENIGMA project is examining how the interactions between ethnicity, geography, diet and the gut microbiome are involved in Crohn’s disease in both Asian and western populations.

Professor Morrison will be working on the ENIGMA study, alongside IBD experts from St Vincent’s Hospital, The University of Melbourne, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and key IBD collaborative partners in mainland China. Professor Morrison said the grant will enable the ENIGMA team to delve into the microbiome of diverse populations to identify factors that influence the development of Crohn’s disease and IBD.

“We are excited to continue our collaborations with the Melbourne and Hong Kong based clinical teams via the ENIGMA study, investigating the role of the gut microbiome and diet in the management and treatment of Crohn’s disease. The generous support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust provides a unique opportunity to realise new ways to translate the microbiome into medicine, with real impact for our communities challenged by this debilitating disease.”

Combining basic science, dietetics and clinical science, the ENIGMA team has been working for eight years across China, Hong Kong and Australia - with Australia already having one of the highest incidence rates of CD and China and Hong Kong being countries with rapidly increasing rates.

“With diagnoses of Crohn’s disease on the rise worldwide, it is hoped this study will identify potential causes and result in strategies that can prevent new cases, and prolong remission for existing patients. We are excited by the prospects our discoveries can have for all Crohn’s disease and IBD patients,” Professor Morrison said.

Media: Professor Mark Morrison, m.morrison1@uq.edu.au