UK’s first predictive test for Crohn’s and Colitis

03 May 2019

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PREDICTSURE IBD™, a new simple test could enable personalised treatment of Crohn’s and Colitis.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed a new test that can reliably predict the future course of Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, transforming treatments for people with the conditions and paving the way for a personalised approach.

In the latest study, published in the journal Gut, researchers at the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, worked with 69 people with Crohn’s to see whether it was possible to develop a useful, scaleable test by looking at whole blood samples alongside CD8 T-cells and using widely-available technology.

The team used a combination of machine learning and a whole blood assay known as qPCR – a relatively simple tool used in NHS labs across the country – to identify genetic signatures that were the same as the two groups (mild and severe) from their previous study.

The researchers then validated their findings in 123 people with Crohn’s or Colitis recruited from clinics in Cambridge, Nottingham, Exeter and London.

This is important as it could enable doctors to personalise the treatment that they give to each patient. If an individual is likely to have only mild disease, they don’t want to be taking strong drugs with unpleasant side-effects. But similarly, if someone is likely to have a more aggressive form of the disease, then the evidence suggests that the sooner we can start them on the best available treatments, the better we can manage their condition.

Dr James Lee
Clinical Research Fellow, University of Cambridge 

The accuracy of the test is comparable to similar biomarkers used in cancer, which have helped transform treatment.

They found the new test was 90-100% accurate in correctly identifying people who did not require multiple treatments.

IBD can be a very debilitating disease, but this new test could help us transform treatment options, moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a personalised approach to treating patients.

Professor Ken Smith
Senior author and Head of the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge

The test is now being developed further by PredictImmune and has led to the creation of PredictSURE IBD™. 

It is a simple blood test which can provide valuable information to doctors about the expected way people’s condition will affect their bodies. 

The team is also involved in a £4.2 million trial to see whether using the biomarker to guide treatment at the time of diagnosis can lead to better outcomes for people with Crohn’s or Colitis.

We’re now at the stage where this simple blood test will be available in the NHS. This could drastically change the lives of people with Crohn’s or Colitis as it means they can be started on the best medication for them sooner. I am also pleased to see how our investment into research can lead to tangible benefits for patients, taking it from the lab into real IBD clinics.

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

The PredictSURE IBD™ test has 10 years of research behind it, with Crohn’s & Colitis UK providing early support and investment into its development.  

Find out more about our research