Reducing flares in Ulcerative Colitis by blocking immune cells



We hope to reduce flares in Ulcerative Colitis by blocking the immune cells which are causing the inflammation and tissue damage

Professor Jo Spencer, Kings College, London 

What is this research looking at?

Injury to the intestine in Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is caused by excessive activity of immune cells that produce damaging factors called cytokines.  These cells are found in connective tissue in the gut called the laminia propria. Biologic drugs used to treat UC block the cells (e.g. Vedolizumab) or the cytokines (e.g. Infliximab) produced by the cells.
This research aims to identify an earlier stage in the UC disease process when the cytokine-producing cells are being made, and block their production at this stage. The immune system in the intestines has two zones with different roles to play. First is the “organised tissue”, also known as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), where the immune cells are made. The cells from GALT then enter the blood and are taken to the second zone - the “lamina propria”. In healthy patients with no UC, the number of cells produced and entering the lamina propria is well controlled and regulated. UC patients however produce far too many of the immune cells. The researchers want to find out why this is, and try to reduce the number produced.

What do researchers think this could mean for people with IBD? 

The researchers are optimistic that by stopping the production of these cytokine-producing cells in UC, they can fight the disease closer to its cause and source. Flares caused by the re-emergence of these damaging cells would be blocked.

Who is leading this research:  Professor Jo Spencer, Kings College, London
Our Funding: £64,945
Duration: 12 months
Grant reference: M2017-4
Official title of application: Aberrant intestinal immune induction driving inflammation in ulcerative colitis 
Tags: Ulcerative Colitis and cells