Crohn’s research gets £1.8m funding boost

23 April 2019

A research project initially funded by Crohn's & Colitis UK has been given a further £1.8 million to continue researching how mitochondria impact Crohn’s Disease.

Dr Gwo-tzer Ho and his team at University of Edinburgh have received £1.8 million in funding to further their research into how mitochondria (tiny part of our cells that are key to providing our bodies with energy) could have an impact on Crohn’s Disease.

This began with an £8,000 project grant from Crohn’s & Colitis UK in 2016, and we’re now funding a follow-on project.


I am honoured to receive this award, which is a reflection on the team’s efforts to understand the role of mitochondria in IBD. We are very hopeful that our work will lead to better tools to predict how the disease affects patients, which could ultimately lead to improvements in their treatment and quality of life.

Dr Gwo-Tzer Ho
University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research

In both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, mitochondria have been found to give off ‘danger signals’ that immune cells confuse with bacteria, leading them to trigger an unintended and harmful inflammatory responses.

The project aims to find out if these danger signals could be used to develop a simple, non-invasive blood or stool test, to show if there’s inflammation in the gut. At the moment, people with the conditions have to undergo a colonoscopy for doctors to see this.

The researchers will investigate if this test could allow doctors to predict what people’s Crohn’s might look like in the future, which could lead to new treatments. It could also help doctors spot different forms of Crohn’s and develop personalised treatments.


It is amazing to see how an initial £8,000 grant can lead to funding of almost £2 million. We are always delighted to see the huge achievements of researchers we work with and play a part in significant studies such as Gwo-tzers'.

Helen Terry
Director of Research, Crohn's & Colitis UK

Funding comes from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, a US-based charity committed to improving lives.

Helmsley’s Crohn’s Disease Program aims to find a cure for the condition and to enhance peoples’ quality of life.


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