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Crohn's and Colitis pain prioritised with £4.1 million research investment

We're partnering up to combat pain through the ADVANTAGE pain project, a new data hub that's studying chronic pain experienced by people with Crohn's and Colitis, and other long-term conditions.

Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms of Crohn's and Colitis. And it's a devastating feature of other long-term conditions including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and dementia. One in twenty people in the UK live with pain, but it's misunderstood and not always taken seriously. A £16 million investment from the Medical Research Council (MRC) aims to change this. By funding four collaborative research hubs into pain, the MRC want to improve the lives of thousands of people living with this symptom. And we're working with them to do this.

The MRC data hubs are part of a £24 million initiative to set up an Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP). Pain is complex, but the APDP wants to increase knowledge about the biological, psychological, and social factors which affect pain experienced by people living with long-term conditions, and pave the way for better treatments.

By bringing together the health data of thousands of people across the UK living with pain, the ADVANTAGE project aims to gain a better understanding of why pain happens, and the effect it has on people's lives and wellbeing. No two experiences of Crohn's and Colitis are the same, and this also applies to pain. The project will be looking at why people with visceral pain -pain in or around internal organs -have these different experiences. This means the researchers will be looking at and comparing similar 'flaring' conditions, including Crohn's, Colitis, endometriosis and Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Some people with Crohn's or Colitis experience severe pain, with no sign of inflammation. Others experience little pain, but visibly have more serious inflammation in the gut. The researchers want to know why this is. They'll also be looking at the differences between men and women, to provide data which will help provide the right treatment for each person.

Approximately 70% of people with Crohn's or Colitis experience pain. This can be constant and relentless, and current treatment options are not good enough. We are extremely excited to partner with the ADVANTAGE pain project which provides a real opportunity to transform how we understand and treat pain in people with Crohn's and Colitis. As partners in the project, we will be supporting the team to get people living with Crohn's and Colitis involved. And to make sure the views of those affected are central to the project's success.

Nikul Bakshi

Research Programme Lead, Crohn's & Colitis UK

People with Crohn's & Colitis who experience pain will be recruited over the course of the programme to form a National Visceral Pain Resource of patients who can then be selected for future studies. There will also be opportunities for patients to get involved in the programme through Patient & Public involvement events. Please keep an eye on our Research Involvement Opportunities webpages for future opportunities to take part.

This project is new, but we haven't been standing still on pain. The ADVANTAGE project will be working with the Pain Collaborative Network, set up by us to speed up chronic pain research. The work of the network was recently published in the Journal of Pain.

Our ultimate aim is to improve our understanding of visceral pain from the perspective of people living with the condition, so that the NHS can develop and offer patients more effective treatments and support to address the diverse nature of their symptoms and help improve their quality of life.

Professor Geoff Woods and Dr Michael Lee

Leading the ADVANTAGE project

If you'd like to hear more about the ADVANTAGE research as it develops, or more about our work on pain in Crohn's and Colitis, you can sign up to our research newsletter.

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