Current Research Initiative Successes

Broad Medical Research Program at The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (BMRP)

Because the causes of IBD are unknown and no therapies consistently effective, the BMRP's mission is to foster the creativity of scientists in all disciplines and ignite novel ideas in IBD research. By supporting original, exploratory ideas and choosing to not prescribe an investigational direction or specific areas of research, the BMRP aims to come to a better understanding of the etiology, management, therapies, prevention, and eventual cures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about this program.

Microbiome Initiative

  • People carrying different IBD genes, such as NOD 2, have different compositions of gut bacteria.  A person’s genes can therefore affect which gut bacteria they host.
  • Different subsets of IBD can be characterized by signature bacterial compositions, defined by risk signature of ~20 microbial families
  • A novel way to study intestinal bacterial metabolism in humans have been identified

Ultimate goals for the consortium-

  • Understand mechanisms by which bacteria, viruses and fungi cause disease in genetically susceptible hosts.  This can lead to new strategies to treat and prevent IBD
  • Identify bacteria and viruses associated with flares:  This will help guide ways to prevent disease relapses by immunization, antibiotics, dietary modification, probiotics, etc.
  • Use bacterial profiles to predict the course of disease in an individual patient with IBD – aggressiveness of disease, risk of complications and response to treatment

Pediatric Risk Study

Enrollment is completed. 1,794 pediatric patients enrolled from 29 centers across US and Canada

  • 1,193 with confirmed Crohn’s disease (CD)
  • 161 with ulcerative colitis (UC)
  • 10% non IBD and
  • 128 with IBDU -- not classified as CD or UC.
  • 393 subjects with non-IBD

Key findings of the group thus far:

  • 17 genes are expressed differently in intestines of patients who developed a stricture. The group is developing a model for the expression of these genes to be used as predictors of risk for stricture development
  • Children diagnosed under 10 years of age have distinct blood profile antibodies in their blood. These results suggest that there are distinct mechanisms of CD in patients < 10 years

Primary goal-

        Develop a risk model to predict the prognosis and response to therapy of newly diagnosed patients with Crohn’s disease based on their genetic, immunologic, microbial and clinical profiles


200+ genes associated with IBD have been discovered, as well as 5 high-priority genetic pathways.


  • Understand the function of these genes in normal and IBD patients
  • Group patients into clinically relevant subtypes based on their genetic makeup
  • Find gene pathways that will form good targets for design of new drugs to treat IBD
  • Understand how IBD-associated genes increase risk of developing disease – this information can be used to develop strategies to prevent disease

 CCFA PARTNERS: Internet-based registry of patient reported disease outcomes

  • More than 14,000 adult patients have signed up and completed the survey
  • 700 kids and teens have completed the "kids and teens" module
  • Questions on drug usage, diet, environment, quality of life and alternative medicines
  • Regular interaction and follow up with patients – reminders to immunize, etc.

Key findings of the study-

  • Disease prevention- Patients with IBD are more likely to develop weak bones, infections like influenza and tuberculosis and certain cancers of the skin, cervix and colon, depending on the type of medications they use.
  • Medication Adherence- Most patients are not taking their IBD medications correctly all of the time. In general, people felt better when they had a high medication adherence score.
  • Quality of life: Patients with severe ulcerative colitis had low quality of life, but quality of life returned to around average when patients had surgery to remove their colon and replace it with an internal pouch
  • Patient reported outcomes - IBD patients had more anxiety, depression, fatigue and sleep disturbance, and less social satisfaction than the general population. Using corticosteroids made all of the outcomes worse.

PIANO study- Registry of Pregnant women with IBD and their offspring to determine if IBD medications affects pregnancy and health of the baby.

  • 1115 women (of which 896 delivered) were followed
  • Patients on different medications (biologics, immunosuppressants) were studied and compared to unmedicated

Key findings-

  • IBD medication exposure during pregnancy was not associated with abnormalities in:
    • Rate of congenital anomalies
    • Infant height and weight
    • Overall rates of infections
    • Developmental milestones at months 4,9,12
  • Of the patients studied, those on biologics alone had a slightly increased rate of
    • Spontaneous abortions
    • C-sections

**These results may relate to the fact that patients with more severe disease took biologic therapies

  • Of the patients studied, those on combination therapy (Biologics and immunosuppressants) had a slightly increased rate of-
    • Preterm birth
    • Infections at 12 months
      • UC: Any complication, premature delivery, low birth weight, neonatal intensive care unit

      **Again, these results may be due to the aggressive disease that led to combination drug use rather than the agents themselves

Last Updated: December 2016