New map of cells found in Ulcerative Colitis

02 October 2019

In a study funded by Crohn's & Colitis UK, Dr Daniele Corridoni has analysed a population of cells that have never been analysed before in the field of Crohn’s and Colitis. 

Dr Corridoni and colleagues at University of Oxford have been investigating different cell populations found in the human gut and examining them using new innovative lab techniques. 

By looking at a specific group of immune cells called tissue-resident CD8+ T cells, which are found in the gut and may be very important in the development of Crohn's and Colitis, the scientists have found out new information that could lead to the development of more targeted treatments.  

Dr Corridoni and colleagues extracted CD8+ T cells from healthy people and people with Ulcerative Colitis. They then used single cell technologies including “single cell RNA sequencing” and “CyTOF” which allowed them to investigate these cells and see if there were differences between each group in the way they behaved. 

There’s emerging evidence that CD8+ T cells play an important role in the development of IBD, but little was known about the types of cells that make up this population. Our study is the first of its kind to describe the different sub-groups of cells within the CD8+ T cells that contribute to intestinal inflammation. By mapping the roles of these cells in Ulcerative Colitis, we’ve found new protective (regulatory) and inflammatory drivers that could provide new targets for therapies. I would like to thank all the patients who contributed to this study and made this work possible.

Dr Daniele Corridoni
University of Oxford

Within the CD8+ T cells from people with Colitis, the researchers found large differences including a set of cells that could be causing inflammation (effector cells) and another set of cells that may act as immune system protectors (regulatory cells).

This is an exciting discovery meaning that new drugs could be created to target either of these groups of cells. The aim is that this could lead to a more personalised approach when treating people with Colitis or Crohn's Disease.

The study also provides the basis for future studies to follow the same model, which could lead to even more research within this field. 

It's always exciting when research we fund leads to the possibility of new treatment options for people living with Crohn’s and Colitis. Dr Corridoni’s study could lead to a more personalised approach, which, when looking to the future, is a big focus in IBD medicine.

Helen Terry
Director of Research at Crohn’s & Colitis UK

Research like Dr Corridoni's is funded by Crohn's & Colitis UK thanks to the generosity of our supporters. Our aim is to improve lives right now and, ultimately, to find a cure. 

You can support research by taking part in our 2019 Raffle for Research.