Congratulations to Dr James Ashton, who has been awarded a clinical research training fellowship by the children’s charity Action Medical Research following a highly competitive selection process.
James will use the fellowship funding to conduct, over the course of the next three years, research into a more personalised approach to the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children.
IBD is a term used to describe two long-term conditions that involve inflammation of the gut – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is becoming increasingly common in western countries.
James’ work will focus on Crohn’s disease in patients under the age of 16. The disease is more severe at this age, affecting the children’s growth, development and school attendance, with about a third requiring surgery.
It is thought that in people who are susceptible to developing IBD, bacteria in the gut trigger an autoimmune response, which causes gut inflammation.
“It’s a condition they’ll have for the rest of their lives,” says James. “We can’t cure it, we can only make it better.”
He will study a group of around 100 patients before and after they receive treatment, investigating three key factors thought to be involved in the develop of the disease – their genetics, transcriptome and gut microbiome.
Using this holistic approach, he intends to discover more about the disease and the underlying reasons for differences in how individual patients respond to treatment.
“By doing all these three things in the same patient before they’ve had any treatment," he explains, "we hope to dicover more about what’s going on.”